(KMSP) - Thousands of patients are uneasy about their health care options after receiving word that the contract between Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota and Fairview Health Services could expire at the end of the year.
Both Blue Cross and Fairview have sent letters to patients explaining that if a new agreement isn’t reached, Fairview would be considered out-of-network. That means costs would soar for Blue Cross patients who continue to use Fairview facilities.
Both sides have been negotiating for several months, but have been unable to come to terms. Some patients feel as if they’re caught in the middle.
“Seniors have to make their decision by December 7,” said Kathy Eich of Burnsville. “We don’t have until the first of the year. So it’s a very short period of time for us to decide what we’re going to do.”
Other patients told Fox 9 the dispute leaves them with few options.
“Our open enrollment ended on November 8. Therefore, it is impossible for us to consider anything,” wrote Theresa Johnson. “The decision to change providers is especially complicated for me as I have a number of life threatening illnesses that require continued medical care as well as ongoing chemotherapy. It would have been good to know this information in a timely fashion so that if I decided to change providers I could get on waiting lists to see the many specialists that I currently have on my team.”
Both sides said they are working on reaching a fair agreement.
Blue Cross Blue Shield statement
“Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota has a responsibility to make sure that all health care claims paid on behalf of our members are set at a fair market value."
“We are in standard year-end contract negotiations with Fairview. Discussions are ongoing and an agreement can be reached at any time.”
Fairview Health Services statement
“Fairview Health Services’ current three-year contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota is set to expire at the end of this year. Despite persistent efforts of the negotiating teams, the contract discussions have proven challenging, and we have not yet reached a new agreement with Blue Cross.
Fairview’s top concern is our patients’ care. We will continue to negotiate with Blue Cross and seek the necessary reimbursement level to fund our mission and support exceptional patient care.”
While our goal remains to reach a contract agreement by Dec. 31 and prevent any disruption to access/coverage for Blue Cross members who choose Fairview, we also are prepared to continue caring for all patients who choose us—even in the event that we are unable to reach an agreement by year end.
Just as Blue Cross is communicating with its members, Fairview is communicating directly with its patients who have Blue Cross coverage—about 170,000 patients in the previous 12 months. They will receive a letter from us in the mail, and we also have information posted on our website for patients.