The Northside Independent School District is switching healthcare providers, from Humana to BlueCross BlueShield of Texas, on Jan. 1.
The transition may not be a smooth one if BCBS and the parent company of Methodist Hospitals cannot come to an agreement by Dec. 31.
“Northside School District's 14,000 employees are stuck in the middle of a squabble,” said NISD Director of Communications, Pascual Gonzalez. “There's not much we can do about it. This is really a business decision for two giant corporations.”
Methodist Hospitals’ parent company is the Hospital Corporation of America.
The two sides have reached an impasse in negotiations on a new contract.
Doctor Estaban Lopez, regional president of BCBS of Texas, says HCA has requested a reimbursement rate that is nearly four times the current rate of inflation, which would add approximately $100 million annually to the cost of healthcare for Texas customers.
Officials with Methodist Healthcare said those numbers are in accurate.
If a deal is not reached by the end of the year, Methodist Healthcare would fall out of BCBS’s network.
Having negotiations come down to the wire is not uncommon, but NISD employees and thousands of other BCBS carriers who use Methodist’s network of hospitals in San Antonio are worried that they may have to pay out-of-network prices.
BCBS officials said there are numerous medical conditions that would be eligible for “continuity of care”, which would allow patients to pay in-network prices even if the two sides cannot come to an agreement.
Regardless of who is right or wrong, employees just want to know if they need to add “new doctor” to their holiday shopping list.
“I do have confidence that they'll work it out,” said NISD employee, Joyce Hultgren. ”It is a concern to know that I might not be able to use the Methodist Hospitals any longer.”
For more information on how the negotiations impact NISD employees, click here.
For more information on BlueCross BlueShield health coverage, click here and scroll to the “For Members” section.