Phoenix(3TV/CBS 5) — As of last week, Dignity Health is no longer accepting in-network coverage from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, leaving thousands of patients scrambling to find new health care providers to avoid higher costs.
Laura Nero is a registered nurse with RN Health Advocates. Dignity Health’s dispute with Blue Cross could have ripple effects on patients seeking care from new providers, she said.
“I think any delay in treatment can have a significant impact on patient outcomes,” Nero said. “It can cause delays in getting prescription medications, delays in getting tests done, and delays in provider appointments.”
Dignity Health is divorcing the state’s largest health insurance company after the parties failed to reach a new contract agreement. Both companies blame the other for the breakup.
Dignity Health issued a statement:
“Over the past several months, Dignity Health has worked in good faith to enter into a new, accountable contract agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) that puts patients first and positions Dignity Health Stay within the network of BCBSAZ members.
Despite our best efforts, BCBSAZ was unwilling to accept fair contract terms. Therefore, beginning February 1, 2024, most BCBSAZ members will no longer consider Dignity Health to be part of the BCBSAZ network in Maricopa and Pinal Counties.
We never intended to leave the BCBSAZ network. We submitted several proposals to BCBSAZ, but each one was rejected by them. We also offered to extend the negotiation period for a further two weeks to avoid disruption to our patients, but BCBSAZ rejected our extension offer without making a counter-offer, resulting in the termination of the existing agreement. We are very disappointed that BCBSAZ did not officially notify us of their decision to remove us from the network.
Our doctors and hospitals rely on fair contracts to help us cover normal increases in the cost of providing high-quality care. Inflation has significantly increased costs and created serious challenges for nonprofit health care providers like ours throughout Arizona and across the country. We had hoped that BCBSAZ would work with us to develop collaborative solutions, but they did the opposite. In fact, BCBSAZ has not even complied with the terms of our existing contract: despite our repeated requests for relief, they have refused to pay millions of dollars in outstanding claims for care our providers have provided.
We do not underestimate our responsibility as one of the region’s highest quality health care organizations to provide life-saving care today and into the future. Patients are at the center of everything we do and we recognize the inconvenience this situation causes.
Although our contract with BCBSAZ has been terminated, we will continue to work in the best interests of our patients and hope to reach a new agreement with BCBSAZ.
We encourage patients to come in Maintain Dignity Health Network Get informed or call 877-264-3264 to ask questions about your coverage, including continuity of care. “
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, on the other hand, claims Dignity Health is driving up health care costs to the detriment of patients after making $153 million in profits last year, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona posted the following on its website:
“Compensation for health care providers should be fair and should increase appropriately, but it cannot place an unnecessary burden on families who need care.”
Dignity Health has given notice of its intention to exit the network on February 1, 2024. We have worked hard to keep Dignity Health in the AZ Blue network, but they have repeatedly rejected many fair and reasonable price increase offers from AZ Blue. Effective February 1, Dignity Health (excluding Yavapai Regional) will be out of network. “
Although Dignity has left the AZ Blue Network, emergency room visits are still covered in the network.
If members are receiving dignified care or treatment, they will continue to receive the care they need.
For surgeries and procedures that have been scheduled, you can complete the service and any related follow-up care.
Dignity Health providers are obligated to continue providing care to members who are scheduled for surgery or who are being treated for certain conditions in the network.
If you are unsure whether you have continuity of care rights, we have a team ready to help you, please contact us.
If a member is inappropriately rejected, we will work hard to intervene and correct it.
Each Dignity hospital has one or moreIn-network alternativesWithin approximately 3 miles.Click to view map.
This does not affect members of FEP, Medicare Advantage, or individual and family Affordable Care Act plans. Dignity will remain on the network until January 1, 2025. “
Michelle Riddle helps patients in their disputes with hospitals and health insurance companies with complete dignity. Blue Cross patients with Dignity Health have some options, she said.One of them is making a “continuity of care” request to Blue Cross to keep their doctors at in-network prices
“In continuum of care, you will establish all of your medical records and demonstrate that you have this relationship with the provider, the treatments that are ongoing, and that continued care with that provider will be in your best interest,” Riedel explain.
Yavapai Regional Medical Center will continue to receive the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona plan.
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