Health Insurer Dispute with Piedmont Healthcare May Affect Some Shepherd Center Patients
As you might have heard or read in Georgia news, health insurance giant Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of Georgia and Piedmont Healthcare failed to reach a new agreement before their existing contract expired on April 1. With no contract, BCBS of Georgia customers must pay higher out-of-network rates and deductibles for Piedmont care until the dispute is resolved.
While Shepherd Center is not part of the Piedmont Healthcare system, some Shepherd inpatients do go to Piedmont Atlanta Hospital for procedures and/or receive care provided by Piedmont physicians while an inpatient at Shepherd. For those Shepherd inpatients and outpatients who have BCBS of Georgia, their care at Piedmont Healthcare facilities throughout the state is now provided at higher out-of-network rates.
“We hope BCBS of Georgia and Piedmont Healthcare come to mutually beneficial terms soon for the wellness of the half million-plus Georgians impacted by this situation,” said Chet Bhasin, FACHE, MBA, MS, chief operating officer of Shepherd Center. “Our goal at Shepherd is to ensure our patients are informed of their care and coverage during this time, and if there are any questions, they should speak with their case manager or Shepherd provider.”
For the 600,000 BCBS customers who are employees of the state of Georgia and University System of Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal announced on April 3 that the state will cover the costs of the difference in in-network and out-of-network rates at Piedmont for the next 30 days. Meanwhile, the governor also urged BCBS and Piedmont to resume negotiations on a new contract.
Note that in-network rates will continue to apply to BCBS of Georgia customers who are Shepherd patients receiving care provided directly by Shepherd Center and its employed physicians. This contract dispute does not affect patients who are customers of any other health insurers.
Atlanta area news media outlets are following this story closely and providing updates frequently. News outlets providing regular updates include:
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 743 inpatients, 277 day program patients and more than 7,161 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.