INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana University Health and insurer UnitedHealthcare said Thursday they have ended a more than monthlong stalemate and reached a contract agreement that affects up to 400,000 Hoosiers with insurance through the Minnesota-based company.
IU Health said the new 2-year provider contract will be retroactive to Jan. 1, when the old contract expired. The agreement means IU Health's physicians and facilities are again in-network providers in UnitedHealthcare insurance plans.
"While we are pleased to have reached an agreement with UnitedHealthcare, it's unfortunate that our patients experienced any unnecessary stress or inconvenience," IU Health chief medical officer Dr. John C. Kohne said in a statement.
Under the deal, UnitedHealthcare's 400,000 covered members in Indiana will be able to access IU Health's hospital and doctor network without being billed for higher out-of-network fees.
IU Health runs the state's largest hospital network, with 20 hospitals and 1,500 doctors.
UnitedHealthcare said in a statement it will be finalizing the agreement's details in the days ahead "so that our members continue to have uninterrupted access to care and we are able to maintain our relationship with this valued hospital and physician group."
Negotiations between UnitedHealthcare and IU Health had failed to yield a new contract before the existing contract expired on Dec. 31. But IU Health had allowed UnitedHealthcare patients a special "in-network" status to help avoid a disruption of health care services.
IU Health spokesman Whitney Ertel told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1eu35BM ) that under the new contract there will "virtually be no changes (for patients) — the same hospitals and doctors, same billing, same practices and procedures."
Neither side has discussed what points led to the stalemate in contract negotiations. But IU Health President Dan Evans suggested in a statement earlier this week that UnitedHealthcare was insisting on IU Health lowering its rates more than it was willing to go.
In Thursday's statement, IU Health said "both parties have made concessions to reach this point."
Many health care providers and health benefits companies are reworking their business models and relationships to adapt to new rules under President Barack Obama's health care law and the creation of the regionally based insurance offerings.
Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com