published Saturday, June 7th, 2014

Some United Healthcare patients may lose doctors

Local and national coverage

Some Medicare Advantage and TennCare patients insured through United Healthcare may lose their current doctors as the insurer cuts Tennessee physicians to narrow those networks.

About 4 percent of the 12,000 Medicare Advantage providers and fewer TennCare providers are expected to be affected, the Tennessee Medical Association reported.

“Some of the patients are losing their longstanding physicians,” said Rae Bond, director of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society. “This has been an issue nationwide.”

While the Chattanooga-based Southeast Tennessee Area Agency of Aging and Disability reported it had not received patient complaints about the shift, director Steve Witt said some affected patients likely will face a “difficult process” finding a new doctor.

While United Healthcare has not given physicians a reason for their termination, the medical association said that the terminations are an effort to “consolidate patients into larger practices which care for more UHC patients.”

UHC has told doctors the cuts are “not for cause” terminations, meaning no report will be made to the National Practitioner Data Bank as a result of the cuts.

Letters do not affect UHC commercial products, insurance officials told the Tennessee Medical Association.

Patients receiving ongoing treatment for serious conditions such as cancer will be given the opportunity to continue with their current physicians if the doctors are among those removed from the network.

Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at kharrison@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673.

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