University of Utah Health, Regence BlueCross Blue Shield Negotiations Stall on Health Care Costs

The organizations have until June 30 to finalize a new deal.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The sun sets over the University of Utah hospital on Friday, October 16, 2020. The University of Utah Healthcare System is in contract talks with Regence BlueCross BlueShield, but the deal has stalled on health care costs.

Thousands of University of Utah Health patients insured by Regence BlueCross BlueShield will be forced to find a new provider or pay out-of-network costs of care if two groups clash over rising health care costs cannot make deal before the end of the month .

Even if they reach a new deal, their impasse has left tens of thousands of Utah residents grappling with the possibility of significant policy change.

The organizations, which have worked together since the founding of the University of Utah hospital in 1965, have been negotiating a new contract since last year that would keep the U.S. healthcare system within the Regences network, according to a blog post on health care providers. website insurance.

Unfortunately, Regence and University of Utah Health have been unable to agree on an increase in what we pay them for care that will not significantly increase premiums, the blog post reads. A Regence spokesperson declined to answer further questions and directed the blog post to the Salt Lake Tribune.

U. Health said in a statement provided Wednesday, We are confident that a resolution can be reached with Regence that prioritizes the health and well-being of our patients, our teams and our community.

Organizations have until June 30 to finalize a contract. Otherwise, most patients using Regence will either pay out-of-network costs to continue treatment with their US health care provider or have to find someone else in a different health care system.

Some patients, including those who are pregnant, have certain chronic conditions, or are already scheduled for non-elective surgery, may be able to continue care with U. Health for a limited time after their contracts expire, Regence said. .

U. Health treats between 70,000 and 80,000 Regence-insured patients who are not employees of the University of Utah, spokeswoman Kathy Wilets said. They treat another 50,000 US employees, and Wilets said the US has taken steps to provide care for these patients as if they were still online.

Connie Millecam, 80, lives in Holladay and has been using Regence insurance for about 15 years, since she started Medicare. She millecam said she has a pacemaker and a heart murmur, and recently her heartbeat has become increasingly irregular.

She has been stressed ever since she received a letter earlier this month from Medicare Regences director David Dodge announcing that U. Health may no longer be an in-network provider. She then called Regence to inquire, she said she was told there are other providers who may be able to provide the care she needs.

But Millecam trusts his doctor at U. Health and thinks the healthcare system is world-class.

I don’t want to go to St. Marks (hospital) and I don’t want to go to IHC, Millecam said. My doctor is at the University of Utah.

According to Dodge’s May 22 letter, the insurance company pledged to reach a compromise.

Regence regularly partners with providers across our state on a network contract to help deliver quality medical care at an affordable cost for our members, Dodge wrote. We also strongly believe that doctors, nurses and other providers should be fairly compensated for care and that members should not be placed at the center of standard network negotiations.

Unfortunately, he continued, Regence and University of Utah Health have been unable to agree on a sustainable rate increase.

Now, Millecam wonders what to do with his pacemaker. He has to get a new one this fall.

Regence asked all members with questions about continuing their care at U. Health to call the number on the back of their ID.

Dodge’s letter listed other providers in the Salt Lake City area who remain in the network, including Foothill Family Clinic, Granger Medical Clinic, Holy Cross Health, Intermountain Health, and MountainStar Healthcares physician network.

In a post to patients on its website, U. Health said, We understand this news is frustrating and potentially confusing. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and your family. We will work closely with you to ensure that your healthcare is properly transferred if the need arises.

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