United Healthcare patients again welcome at Memorial Hospital

News-DemocratNovember 14, 2013 

— Memorial Hospital has announced that it has agreed on a new four-year contract with United Healthcare, meaning patients with that insurance can continue to use the hospital's services.

Effective Dec. 1, Memorial Hospital and the Memorial Medical Group will return in the health insurance provider's network. United Healthcare and the Belleville hospital failed to renew a contract that expired June 30. At that time, an estimated 10 percent of the hospital's patients were covered by United Healthcare.

Hospital Community Relations Director Anne Thomure said reaching a new contract with the health insurance company is good news for Memorial Hospital and its patients.

"And for the community, too," Thomure said. "Those United Healthcare patients have be so supportive and patient with us as we have gone through the negotiations. It's also a lot of business for United. From their perspective, they don't want to lose them nor do we."

Although patients with United Healthcare commercial plans can begin using Memorial Hospital and Memorial Medical Group for services on an in-network basis by next month, Memorial still will not be in network for United Healthcare's Medicare Advantage, or Medicare replacement, plans. However, certain United Healthcare Medicare Advantage members can continue to access Memorial Hospital and its physicians.

Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Turner also thanked the hospital's customers for their patience during the negotiations. He said the hospital wants to "secure a contract that protects our patients' relationships with their providers, now and in the future, while ensuring that we can continue to make critical investments in coordinated care and services."

"Throughout negotiations with United, preserving access to the physicians our patients know and trust has always been our No. 1 priority," Turner said in a released statement. "We understand that the past few months have been difficult for our patients with United coverage and appreciate their support and patience as we worked toward a resolution."

Such negotiations are common in the healthcare industry. In September, St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Belleville reached a new contract with health-care insurance provider Aetna after the previous contract expired in July. The new contract runs through Dec. 31, 2014.

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