Local News

WakeMed, UnitedHealthcare Sign New Contract

Posted July 16, 2007 12:13 p.m. EDT
Updated July 16, 2007 5:08 p.m. EDT

— WakeMed and UnitedHealthcare announced Monday that they have signed a three-year contract allowing patients covered by the insurer to use WakeMed hospitals and clinics.

The move comes more than four months after the hospital system and the insurer parted ways over a dispute over how much WakeMed got paid for services UnitedHealthcare policy holders receive.

Terms of the contract, which took effect Sunday, weren't disclosed.

"UnitedHealthcare and WakeMed are committed to health care that is of high quality and at the same time affordable, and that commitment has been the bedrock of our discussions leading to our long-term agreement," Austin Pittman, president and chief executive of UnitedHealthcare of North Carolina, said in a statement.

"We believe this new agreement is in the best interests of the community, physicians and staff, and we look forward to building upon our strong relationship with UnitedHealthcare," William K. Atkinson, WakeMed president and chief executive, said in the statement.

UnitedHealthcare, which has about 130,000 members in the Triangle, ended its relationship with WakeMed on March 1because the hospital system wouldn't agree to charging the insurer rates comparable to those paid by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.

At the time, WakeMed officials said prices are based on how much business an insurer brings into the hospital and that it couldn't afford to give UnitedHealthcare a better deal.

UnitedHealthcare patients who used WakeMed in recent months had to pay out-of-network charges, although the hospital system picked up the extra expenses for some patients on a case-by-case basis.