Thompson

We in Baytown, who have United Healthcare, must be proactive and do everything we can to be heard. Our health has been put at risk and in jeopardy over United Healthcare deciding Methodist Hospital, Methodist Outpatient Clinic and Methodist doctors are too expensive. Methodist Hospital has been fine with their pricing for 21 years, but in 2020, UHC says they are now too expensive?

Most of us here in Baytown use the Methodist system in some way or another. We, with UHC insurance, cannot use our brand new Outpatient Clinic for imaging, day surgeries and the other services it offers now. Many of us use the doctors here in our hometown, who are mostly Methodist affiliated. 

We have used these doctors for many years and have a relationship with them. We know and trust them, they know us. But UHC, in their infinite wisdom, has decided we can no longer do this without paying out-of-network prices. When you call UHC they will tell you of doctors and hospitals you can use by getting in your car and driving 15, 20, 30 or more miles away.

We all know how close our doctors and Methodist Hospital are to us. That means driving, using gas, and having to research new doctors for our different health care needs. We hope while we do this we don’t get a sinus infection, a mystery rash, have a gallbladder issue or appendicitis just to name a few. Hoping a heart issue won’t come up or worsen with the stress of being made to look for alternative health care providers because our cardiologist is now out of network. There is now only one cardiologist in Baytown we can use that is in network according to UHC.

Much of the information UHC gives you on a call about alternative care options is inaccurate. They think Harris County Hospital is at 4401 Garth and is a hospital you can be admitted to. They list 1602 Kentucky as a place to go. We in Baytown know that is the address of Goose Creek Health Clinic near San Jacinto Elementary and not an alternative for our Primary Care physician that will be out of network come April 1. They will say St Luke’s hospital is 14 miles away. St Luke’s is a free standing Urgent Care/Emergency Room. They are pushing Harris County doctors.

United Health Care gave no long term, warning of this change so our employers Human Resource Departments could look for a contract with another health care provider or at least give us two major carriers to choose from. They gave directives to case managers who answer the number on the back of your card of this change of Methodist becoming out of network on Dec. 20.

UHC does not know unless you tell them that Methodist is the only reasonable choice here in Baytown. It does not know Methodist doctors are almost all there is here (or that is what is said when you call UHC). Even though the contract with Methodist doctors is not up until April 1, most of them will not see you now because negotiations are said to be at an impasse and who wants the headache of dealing with UHC when UHC is being so unyielding, not to mention uncaring of their paying policy holders.

By making the Methodist system out of network UHC is not giving us any compensation, like reducing our premiums, since we must find new doctors and then drive miles to get to them. Something about this does not seem right to me. UHC says Methodist is too expensive but WE the consumer must continue to pay the same monthly premiums we would if we could use Methodist as an in network system. To me United HealthCare is too expensive when making so much here in Baytown out of network .

The negotiations must be continued and an agreement must be reached soon and we need to appeal to UHC do so. We pay UHC premiums, not Methodist, so it is ultimately UHCs responsibility to us and our health and that should drive them to stop this petty argument. We must demand this of them.

United HealthCare policy holders in Baytown-call the number on the back of your card (I have weekly since early November and will continue to do so) and tell them what is happening with you and your health because of the out of network status we are forced into. Fax the Appeals Department and ask for a waiver for us in Baytown because our choices are so slim with doctors who are in network and that we have NO in-network hospital. 1-801-938-2100 and 1-801-938-2011 (they have NO email address). Write to United Health Care 5901 Lincoln Drive Minnetonka, MN 55436. Write United Health Group Center ATTN United Health Care Insurance 9900 Bren Road East Minnetonka, MN 55343 this is where the CEO David S Wichmann is. (no email addresses available).

Email the Texas Board of Insurance (ConsumerProtection@tdi.texas.com) and make them aware of the situation we have been forced into here in Baytown by UHC. 

Use social media, call our local TV stations and any other way you can think of to tell how we in Baytown are being put into a horrible position by United HealthCare.

 

Donna Thompson is a longtime Baytown resident.

 

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