Dispute puts Premier Health out of network for UnitedHealthcare customers

Change affects Atrium Medical Center, many doctors
Posted at 4:30 PM, May 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-15 19:22:36-04

If you're getting medical care in Butler or Warren counties, a dispute between two big companies could leave you with higher bills.

UnitedHealthcare failed to reach a contract with Dayton-based Premier Health Network by a Sunday night deadline. People with United plans through their employer or Medicaid will have to pay out-of-network costs to use Premier facilities, including Atrium Medical Center and many doctors and specialists.

"They're going to have to go out and either pay more money out of their pocket, or they're going to have to go find a different set of physicians. And we're talking about specialty physicians, so we're talking about folks that might have multiple sclerosis or other issues that they've been treated for for years, and now they're going to have to look for new docs," said Charles Patterson, health commissioner of the Clark County Combined Health District.

At issue is United's new health plan design: Put simply, it ranks hospitals and plan providers based on cost and quality. Premier argues the new system would put them at a disadvantage and would limit consumer choice.

Beth Patterson, a UnitedHealthcare patient, said she hopes the companies can reach a deal.

"Find some middle ground you can agree upon, 'cause people in our communities are hurting financially," Patterson said.

In a statement Monday, UnitedHealthcare said it is committed to finding a solution.