According to officials with Bon Secours Health System, talks continue between the system and UnitedHealthcare following the termination of a provider contract between the Minnesota-based insurance provider and Bon Secours Medical Group.
The contract, which does not affect coverage of treatment at Bon Secours facilities such as St. Francis Downtown Hospital, St. Francis Eastside, emergency departments, AFC Urgent Care Bon Secours and radiation oncology services at the St. Francis Cancer Center, was terminated on Feb. 14 after efforts to negotiate an agreement failed.
It means that Bon Secours Medical Group is no longer an in-network provider for individual, employer-sponsored and Medicare Advantage health plans. According to a statement from Bon Secours Health System, less than 10,000 members of UnitedHealthcare use physicians affiliated with the medical group.
In the statement, Bon Secours said it “cannot accept reimbursement rates that jeopardize the ability to provide the latest technology, services and high-quality care Bon Secours’ patients deserve and Bon Secours’ physicians have worked to achieve.”
“Bon Secours Medical Group physicians value the patient-physician relationships they have developed with our patients affected by the UnitedHealthcare decision and, despite no longer being an in-network provider, will continue to provide services to anyone in need,” said Anselmo Nunez, CEO of the Bon Secours Medical Group, in the statement.
Angela Richmond, director of regional communications for UnitedHealthcare, said the insurance provider wants “to find a fair solution that would renew in-network access to Bon Secours physicians while providing fair and competitive rate increases for the important services they provide.”
She said Bon Secours “was seeking a new relationship that would have raised the cost of care for individual and employer-sponsored health plans by more than seven times the average annual increase we’re seeing in South Carolina’s health care costs.”
“We have a responsibility to the local employers and people we serve to balance access to the care they need while maintaining affordable health coverage, and we hope Bon Secours will remain open to continued discussions about a resolution,” Richmond said, in an email.
According to Bon Secours, patients receiving treatment with a physician in the Bon Secours Medical Group “may still be eligible to continue treatment for a period of time as part of the continuity of care agreement.” Patients should call the UnitedHealthcare number on their insurance card with coverage questions.