Thousands of Oklahoma residents are angry to learn they may no longer be able to see their doctors after receiving notices from Hillcrest HealthCare System about possible changes to their insurance company next year.
Hillcrest is still associated with United Healthcare, but that may no longer be the case as of May 2023.
The problem is that patients now have to hurry and re-enroll or choose a new plan before Dec. 7.
The following statement is from Hillcrest HealthCare System: “Hillcrest HealthCare System currently remains in-network with UnitedHealthcare. However, we are working to notify UnitedHealthcare members of upcoming network changes that will end Hillcrest’s in-network status with all United plans beginning May 2023. As health systems across the country our operating costs have continued to rise in recent years United’s reimbursement rates have not been adjusted to help offset these pressures we recognize the disruption this would cause to patients and will work closely with affected individuals to provide a To ensure smooth transition of care current annual Medicare enrollment period, Hillcrest patients who use a United Medicare Advantage plan as their primary insurance may choose to remain with their Hillcrest providers by choosing a different plan of care that is contracted with Hillcrest, and those individuals can visit Hillcrest.com/Medicare For more information. It is important to note that this change does not affect United members’ access to emergency care, as all health plans must account for in-network emergency services. In addition, Utica Park Clinic, Oklahoma Heart Institute clinics and Tulsa Spine & Specialty Hospital remain in-network for United members.”
“They want their doctors and nurses to get paid more into United’s bill,” says Alex Tarasenko, Medicare Enroll USA. “They sincerely hope people leave United Healthcare so they don’t have to worry about having to renegotiate that.”
Tarasenko said when he called Hillcrest’s suggested number and used his mother as an example, the helpline didn’t even ask him what hospital she went to or what prescriptions she took.
“They said here are your two options, which one you want,” Tarasenko said. ‘I’ll look for another doctor, won’t I? But good luck telling my mom to switch doctors. It’s just not going to happen.’
He said most seniors care most about keeping their doctor. But if they switch from United, they could get stuck in a random plan and end up losing some of their benefits and potentially costing more.
“Seniors who let you know $800, $900, $1,000 in Social Security can’t afford to pay cash for anything,” Tarasenko said.