Members of UnitedHealthcare should carefully review their health plan policies before following Houston Methodist’s advice for entering facility with “off-grid benefits,” an economist wrote in an editorial for the. Houston Chronicle.
In January, after UnitedHealthcare and Methodist Hospital terminated their network agreement, Houston Methodist began letting patients covered by UnitedHealthcare know that even though both contractual relationships had ended, UnitedHealthcare members could still access care. with “off-grid benefits”. The split affected around 100,000 patients.
Vivian Ho, PhD, an scholar at Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine, both in Houston, warned UnitedHealthcare members against visiting Methodist Hospital facilities without understanding the large out-of-pocket costs that could cause them wait.
“Most employer-sponsored insurance is relatively generous, but primarily for network care. For out-of-network care, the deductible and disbursements can be several thousand dollars higher,” writes Dr. Ho. “And God forbid that your injury or illness was serious enough that your emergency room visit required hospitalization, because then you would be forced to pay an off-grid hospital bill as well.”
In January, when the ads began appearing, a Houston Methodist spokesperson said in a statement to the Houston Chronicle: “If a patient is treated outside the network, their costs will be higher. But we will be clear about these costs from the start and will work with individuals if necessary on the chargeable amounts.”
Read the full editorial here.
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