|By Joey Holleman, The State (Columbia, S.C.)|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
MEDcare, which has three facilities in the
"If you believe that access to high quality, affordable urgent care that is convenient is something that should be determined by patients and health care consumers instead of insurance companies, you can support this cause," said Dr.
BlueCross also will knock
In some ways, the business decision made by BlueCross is similar to when cable television providers decide not to offer a certain network -- except it involves the administration of health care rather than the ability to watch a favorite program.
One twist is that BlueCross BlueShield owns
"It's the shot across the bow," said
Shrinking provider networks were a major factor in last year's rollout of the federal insurance marketplace policies through the Affordable Care Act. Many people signing up for those policies discovered their family physician or the hospital nearest their home wasn't in-network. People covered by insurance are free to use out-of-network providers, but they will pay more for those services.
In their Code Blue Bulletin issued in June, BlueCross did offer a comment on the issue: "In the past 10 years, we have seen rapid expansion of
MEDcare said its leaders met with BlueCross executives to discuss the change and were told it wasn't related to cost, quality, convenience or access. Hallaba, who said MEDcare hasn't had a rate increase in six years, was left with few reasons to consider.
"It's harder and harder for me to think one hand doesn't know what the other is doing," Hallaba said, referring to BlueCross' financial interest in Doctors Care's success. He noted only two privately owned companies were impacted and wondered, "if you're looking at this as a global thing, is that all you're doing."
Hallaba decided to ask the public to join the discussion via the petition because BlueCross BlueShield is technically a mutual company, owned by its members/customers. He hopes many of them will respond, making it easier for him to change some minds when he meets again next week with BlueCross officials.