published Sunday, November 11th, 2012

UnitedHealthcare back in network with Memorial Hospital

Memorial Hospital is located at 2525 de Sales Avenue in Chattanooga.
Memorial Hospital is located at 2525 de Sales Avenue in Chattanooga.
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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Thousands of Chattanoogans insured by UnitedHealthcare are able once again to get care at Memorial Hospital without paying out-of-network charges.

UnitedHealthcare, the second-biggest health insurer in Tennessee, announced Saturday that it has reached agreement with Memorial over reimbursement rates for hospital services.

The agreement ends a 10-day impasse that meant UnitedHealthcare and United Medicare Advantage subscribers couldn’t use Memorial for nonemergency care without paying out-of-network fees, which are 20 to 30 percent higher.

Lisa McCluskey, a vice president for Memorial Health Care System, said the contract is retroactive to Nov. 1, when the previous agreement expired.

Tracy Lempner, public relations director for UnitedHealthcare in the Southeast, said the new contract allows UnitedHealthcare members to use services at Memorial Hospital, Memorial Hospital Hixson and the MaryEllen Locher Breast Center on an in-network basis.

“Memorial is an important provider of health care services in this region and we are very pleased that our customers in Chattanooga will continue to have in-network access to their services,” Lempner said in a statement Saturday. “Our renewed relationship emphasizes our joint commitment to delivering broad access to quality health care to residents in and around Chattanooga.”

Neither Memorial nor United Healthcare disclosed details of the agreement.

Earlier, Memorial had said UnitedHealthcare asked for a 15 percent rate reduction, while UnitedHealthcare said Memorial was asking for higher rates than other hospitals in the market.

Memorial, the second-biggest hospital in the Chattanooga market, said its rates were lower than what UnitedHealthcare pays other hospitals.

On Aug. 28, Memorial settled a similar contract dispute with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the state’s largest health insurer.

The five-year agreement ended a month-long dispute that had left Memorial temporarily out of BlueCross’ preferred provider network.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or at 757-6340.

about Dave Flessner...

Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...

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