United Healthcare and Wellstar swap insults as negotiating deadline draws near

September 24 — With the current contract between Wellstar Health System and United Healthcare set to expire next month, the ongoing dispute between the two healthcare giants has turned sour.

United insured patients will lose network access to Wellstar facilities after October 3 if cold heads do not prevail.

United, based in Minneapolis, one of the largest healthcare companies in the United States, accused Marietta’s Wellstar of increasing service costs by more than 20% after signing a new hospital contract last June.

“Wellstar hospitals are the most expensive in Atlanta, but they are demanding a 22% price hike that would increase health care costs by more than $ 75 million in just one year,” says a bold headline on a website page devoted entirely to spat. .

According to United, accepting Wellstar’s demands for higher service rates would make care at Wellstar hospitals, including Kennestone and Wellstar Cobb hospitals, almost 50% more expensive than the average for other metropolitan hospitals.

A United spokesperson told MDJ he estimates 80,000 members could be affected if talks fail. Medicare Advantage retirees will still be able to use Wellstar’s facilities, the spokesperson added.

Wellstar hit back with a mirror page on its own site. He accuses United of putting “profits before patients”, arguing that the rates he charges United are consistent with those he gets from other insurers.

“It’s no surprise that UnitedHealthcare is the least reliable private insurer in the country,” the page read.

Wellstar has also sought to differentiate itself from United, which operates for profit and made $ 22 billion in profits in 2020. Wellstar says it is “reinvesting 100% of our savings in the communities we serve,” and goes on to say saying United has a history of “tough tactics” with other hospitals and health systems.

United were in a similar dispute with Northside Hospital earlier this year, in which United also said the Northside facility “is the most expensive in Atlanta,” according to Georgia Health News. The two groups resolved the dispute in August after five months in which some of Northside’s locations were off-grid for United carriers.

In a statement provided to MDJ, Wellstar says some contractual disputes have been resolved so far, “but many fundamental issues remain, including the fact that for years the UHC has not paid its fair share of costs. health costs of the communities we serve. “

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