Person County residents who rely on United Healthcare for their insurance needs will soon be able to receive in-network benefits when they use Person Memorial Hospital or any of the hospital’s affiliated medical practices.
The deal ends a nearly six-month battle between Person Memorial’s parent company, Duke LifePoint Hospitals and United Healthcare over the level of reimbursement the facilities would receive from the insurer for their services.
The agreement is particularly important in Person County because United Healthcare provides insurance for employees of Duke Energy, one of the largest employers in Person County.
Person Memorial Hospital CEO David Ziolkowski could not be reached for comment, but in a statement, the hospital said the new deal allows the hospital enough
“From the outset, we have been committed to ensuring our patients’ healthcare needs would continue to be met,” Ziolkowski said. “Our new contract gives us the ability to continue reinvesting in patient care by recruiting new physicians and caregivers and enhancing the coverage we provide.
The new agreement takes affect April 25 for patients using the hospital. Patients who work with the hospital’s employed doctors will go back into the network May 1.
The new deal covers patients insured by United Healthcare’s commercial and Medicare Advantage plans.
The battle between Duke LifePoint and United Healthcare is part of an ongoing trend as hospitals and insurance providers battle to protect their financial interests in the healthcare fields.
Rural hospitals, in particular, struggle to provide costly services because the equipment and expertise to provide such services are not used as frequently, making it harder for those hospitals to justify the cost.
Ziolkowski said the negotiations resulted in a deal that allows both the hospital and the insurer to meet their budgetary goals. But he said the patients will come out on top.
“This is a win for our patients who deserve access to quality healthcare here at home,” Ziolkowski said.
The old contracts between Duke LifePoint and United Healthcare expired last winter. Since then, patients have been forced to use other healthcare facilities and providers or accept lower levels of reimbursement for services provided through Person Memorial and its doctors.