Local News

Insurance Misunderstanding Might Have Cost Man His Life

Posted March 22, 2007 7:35 p.m. EDT
Updated March 23, 2007 9:57 a.m. EDT

— UnitedHealthcare and WakeMed want the public to understand that even though the hospital is no longer honoring the insurance, it will in case of an emergency.

Earlier this month, the two ended their relationship after a dispute over how much the carrier pays the hospital for services its member receives.

But a Wendell couple's misunderstanding of the agreement might have cost the man his life.

On March 3, Jackie Boykin rushed her husband of 46 years, Randell, to the hospital after he complained of chest pains. They bypassed the closer hospital, WakeMed.

"The main reason we went to Rex was because of the insurance," Boykin said.

Boykin collapsed in the parking lot of Rex Hospital and never regained consciousness. He died March 12.

The Boykins drove right by WakeMed not knowing that UnitedHealthcare and WakeMed had agreed that their members would be covered in an emergency.

"It's terrible, and it's tragic that people haven't got that message," said Deb Frieberg, chief operating officer of WakeMed.

Frieberg said the hospital and UnitedHealthcare have tried to get out that message.

"No matter what your insurance, they need to go the closest emergency department and trust that we will work out any concerns they have," she said.

For Boykin, the information comes too late, but she hopes others will learn from the situation.

"This might have saved my husband's life if we could have gone to Wake," she said. "We did what we thought we had to do."

UnitedHealthcare of North Carolian CEO Austin Pittman told WRAL in a statement Thursday that the company is very disturbed by the tragedy and reiterated that patients with UnitedHealthcare would be covered at any Triangle-area hospital for an emergency.

"In the event of an emergency, our members are to go to the nearest emergency room for care, regardless of whether the hospital is in network or no, the emergency services they receive will be covered at in-network benefit levels," he said.