Thousands of Oklahomans are upset to learn they may no longer be able to see their doctors after receiving notices from Hillcrest HealthCare System about possible changes to their insurance company next year.
Hillcrest is still in network with United Healthcare, but that may not be the case as of May 2023.
The problem is that patients now have to hurry and either re-enroll or choose a new plan by December 7th.
The following statement is from Hillcrest HealthCare System: “Hillcrest HealthCare System currently remains in-network with UnitedHealthcare. However, we are working to notify UnitedHealthcare members of pending network changes that will end Hillcrest’s in-network status with all United plans beginning in May 2023. As health systems across the country, our operating costs have steadily increased over the last few years. United’s reimbursement rates have not been adjusted to help offset these pressures. We recognize the disruption this will cause to patients and will work closely with affected individuals to ensure a smooth transition from care during the ongoing Medicare annual enrollment period, Hillcrest patients using a Medicare Advantage plan from United as their primary insurance may choose to remain with their Hillcrest providers by choosing another health plan contracted with Hillcrest. Those individuals can visit Hillcrest.com/Medicare for more information.It is important to note that here The change does not affect United members’ access to emergency care, as all health plans must consider in-network emergency services. Additionally, Utica Park Clinic, Oklahoma Heart Institute clinics and Tulsa Spine & Specialty Hospital will remain in network for United members.”
“They want their doctors and nurses to be paid more on United’s Bill,” said Alex Tarasenko, Medicare Enroll USA. “They’re just honestly hoping that people leave United Healthcare so they don’t have to worry about renegotiating it.”
Tarasenko said when he called the number suggested by Hillcrest and used his mother as an example, the help line didn’t even ask him what hospital she was going to or what prescriptions she was taking.
“They said here are your two options, which one do you want,” says Tarasenko. “I’ll go find another doctor, okay? But good luck telling my mom to change her doctor. It’s just not going to happen.”
He said most senior citizens care most about keeping their doctor. But if they switch from United, they might get stuck with a haphazard plan and end up losing some of their benefits and possibly costing them more.
“Seniors who give you $800, $900, $1,000 in Social Security, they can’t afford to pay cash for anything,” Tarasenko said.