A dispute concerning rising health care costs might lead to the termination of a contract between UNC Hospitals and an insurance provider early next month, leaving thousands of patients in the lurch.
UNC has raised the costs of service far beyond what Aetna’s patients might be able to pay, said Walt Cherniak, spokesman for the Connecticut-based insurance agency.
Unless the two parties come to an agreement by Feb. 5, UNC Hospitals will become an out-of-network provider for patients insured by Aetna. This means patients insured by Aetna will be paying much higher fees for service at UNC.
“Although we’ve reached out as recently as yesterday, we have no negotiation sessions scheduled,” Cherniak said.
“We have offered a fair increase,” he said. “But we certainly can’t pay what they’re demanding.”
UNC’s increases would translate into direct fee increases for Aetna’s customers, Cherniak said.
“And they have a profitable contract with us now,” Cherniak said.
“What happens when a hospital raises its rates is the rates get passed on to customers,” he said. “No one in this economy needs to be taking on this kind of increased cost.”
For example, a deductible at a UNC doctor’s office that would previously cost the patient $100 would cost $152 with UNC’s proposal, he said.