WakeMed and UnitedHealthcare close to healthcare deal

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — After more than a month of confusion and frustration, it appears that significant progress has been made between WakeMed and UnitedHealthcare. If both sides agree to the deal, clients of UnitedHealthcare could soon regain their status at WakeMed.

Consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia has learned exclusively that the two sides have worked out differences in their contract language which prompted the hospital to remove United Health Clients from its network back on June 1. 

The dispute between the the hospital and insurer forced thousands to scramble to seek healthcare, including an Apex woman who had had serious health issues that required a special test by her WakeMed cardiologist. 

Maggie Booker told CBS 17 she didn’t know what to do about her healthcare coverage. 

“I have my prescriptions for blood thinner, but I’m in limbo,” she said. 

Hopefully that limbo is about to end. 

In a written statement, UnitedHealthcare spokesman Cole Manbeck said the two sides “reached a mutual agreement on language in our contract. Given the contract language issues have been resolved, we fully expect that WakeMed will commit to finalizing the few remaining portions of the new agreement quickly so that the North Carolinians we serve will once again have network access to WakeMed.” 

Late Thursday evening, WakeMed spokeswoman Kristin Kelly emailed this statement to CBS 17 regarding the dispute.

Today’s media coverage of UnitedHealthcare’s written statements are, unfortunately, misleading and inaccurate. Following months of fruitless negotiation – and two months out-of-network – WakeMed was finally able to engage UHC in productive conversations over the last 48 hours. While progress has been made on a fraction of the outstanding items, we did not reach final agreement on major language issues. Progress is not resolution. There is still a great deal to resolve before we can hope to reach a new agreement between WakeMed and UnitedHealthcare.  

If we are able to continue these productive discussions for several more weeks, then there is the potential of resolving these issues and finalizing a new contract. If not, WakeMed could remain out-of-network with UHC into 2023, and perhaps indefinitely.

We want to be sure employers and consumers have the most accurate information as they consider their insurance options for the balance of 2022 and into 2023. If WakeMed reaches an agreement with UnitedHealthcare, we will be pleased to make the announcement as we wholeheartedly recognize this is a source of concern for patients and families in our community with UnitedHealthcare coverage. We encourage people to be careful and mindful about making any decisions based on UnitedHealthcare’s false statements.

There is no indication at this point from WakeMed if or when the hospital will finalize the agreement and reopen the network for UnitedHealthcare clients.

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