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UMMC and Blue Cross face Saturday deadline

The University of Mississippi’s Medical Center is no closer to an agreement with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi.

Back in April UMMC told blue cross management that they would terminate their current agreement on June 30th if they were unable to negotiate a different contract. If there is no agreement between the medical center and Blue Cross patients will be seeing higher out of pocket costs with patients having to file their own claims.

While Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney said he has very little authority to regulate the negotiations between the two, he said they have encouraged mediation.

“My primary concern in this situation is that patients continue to receive access to quality healthcare without suffering financial penalties,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney. “As Commissioner of Insurance, I am
very limited in my ability to get involved with contract disputes. However, both UMMC and BCBSMS have agreed to a mediation proposal from the MID, that should take place within the next few weeks. I remain hopeful that the parties will find common ground and settle the dispute.”

If there is no agreement, patients will be seeing higher out of pocket costs, likely double, and consumers will have to file their own claims.

“We have met with both parties over the past few weeks to try to work out some consumer issues that we are very concerned about,” Chaney said. “The University Medical Center has simply said that they will bill consumers at the normal rates, and balanced billing laws will not apply in this case, so consumers may be shocked at some of the prices that they are going to be billed for, but they can file a claim after they have gotten a bill from UMMC, with Blue Cross for reimbursement for a portion of the bill.”

Chaney added that the Mississippi Insurance Department has set up a website and hotlines to help people come July 1st when the patients are no longer able to use their insurance at UMMC.

 

“We’re just hoping that Blue Cross & Blue Shield and UMMC can work the dispute out and have some agreement in place as short as possible, and we will hope in a matter of days, but I just don’t think that’s going to happen,” Chaney said.

For now, Chaney said Blue Cross & Blue Shield has said that they will pay network rates, however, UMMC may not even accept the insurance payments in full, while Chaney says the department has told UMMC they expect them to accept the payments in full, he said the department has no authority to force the UMMC to accept the payments from Blue Cross.

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