The contract expiration date for one of Central Florida’s largest hospitals, Florida Hospital, and one its largest health carriers, United Healthcare, is rapidly approaching. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the two companies have been at the negotiating table since last November to no avail.
Both entities have sent letters to United Healthcares’ insureds informing them of an August 15th expiration date and the fact it does not appear that a new contract will be inplace in time to extend service. The letters go on to say that if the insured is a patient of a doctor employed by Florida Hospital, that patient will no longer be covered under any of United’s insurance plans. Any service provided would then be considered “out-of-network”. And because the urgent care provider CentraCare is also owned by Florida Hospital, those too would be considered an out-of-network provider.
Patients are urged to discuss this situation with their physicians to find out (1) if their doctor has medical privileges at another local hospital, or (2) get a referral to a doctor who does have priviledges at another hospital. The second option can be a difficult one for patients if they have a serious medical condition and they have long term relationship with their doctor. It can be very unsettling.
I know that the whole nationalized healthcare issue is a hot potato that no seems to want to touch. But if they could at least establish fair and reasonable rates for all medical services, including physicians, hospitals and labs, everyone would be on the same playing field playing by the same rules. Because the only one that gets hurt by all of this squabbling is the patient.