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WNC Hospitals Reach Deal With UnitedHealthcare

Photo courtesy of Harris Regional Hospital
Harris Regional Hospital, Swain Community Hospital and Haywood Medical Center have all reached an agreement with United Healthcare Insurance Company.

Harris Regional Hospital, Swain Community Hospital and Haywood Regional Medical Center announced a new agreement with UnitedHealthcare which reinstates employed physician care on May 1.


The hospitals have been in negotiations with UnitedHealthcare since late October 2018.Negotiators missed a January 1, 2019 deadline to keep patients in-network with their health insurance. That means that patients looking for services from physicians employed by the hospitals, such as OBGYNs and local doctors, have been paying out-of-network premiums for over 3 months.


All three hospitals are owned by Duke LifePoint but were negotiating two individual contracts: one contract for Harris and Swain, as well as, a separate contract for Haywood.  


Harris Regional Hospital and Swain Community Hospital reported that the negotiations with UnitedHealthcare hinged on higher rates for their physicians.

“Our goal in working with UnitedHealthcare is to secure a rate for our employed physicians’ services that allows continued reinvestment in patient care, enhanced services and facilities, recruitment of new physicians and caregivers and planning for our community’s healthcare future,” says Sara Crawford, marketing and PR at both hospitals.


Now it seems that the two organization have agreed on a rate that both can live with.


“From the outset, we have been committed to ensuring our patients’ healthcare needs would continue to be met. Our new contract gives us the ability to continue reinvesting in patient care by recruiting new physicians and caregivers and enhancing the services we provide,” says a press release from all three hospitals.


The agreement also includes both commercial and Medicare Advantage insurance plans.

Mission Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield went through similar negotiations in 2017. The contract between the two organization lapsed for just over 3 months during those talks. Mission Health was purchased on February 1, 2019 for $1.5 billion by for-profit HCA Health.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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