Do You Have the Right Card?

UPMC's Board recently passed a resolution saying it won’t renew its contract with Highmark at the end of 2014, and we’ve already seen what this could mean for Highmark subscribers. Just last month, UPMC told Highmark Community Blue subscribers in Pittsburgh they could no longer see their UPMC doctors, even if they paid cash, because they carried the “wrong” insurance card.

If UPMC makes good on its threats to cut off patients insured with Highmark, nearly 44,000 Highmark subscribers in Blair County may also lose access to UPMC facilities – including Altoona Regional Health System if it is acquired by UPMC.

Higher Healthcare Charges

A recent article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted that charges for care at UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside in Pittsburgh are among the highest in the region. Some procedures at UPMC’s flagship hospital cost more than double those found at other hospitals in the area. This means not only increased costs for health insurers that may be passed onto subscribers, but it can hit uninsured and out-of-network patients particularly hard.

Bad For Patients – Bad For Business

UPMC’s battle with Highmark and drive for higher profits is not good for patients, but it’s also not good for our economy. Harold D. Miller, Executive Director of the Center for Healthcare Quality and Payment Reform recently said: “we’re becoming nationally famous, for the second time in less than twenty years, for how not to run a healthcare delivery system… Instead of having a healthcare system that acts as a magnet for economic development, we’re scaring businesses and potential residents away by showing them that our healthcare providers are more concerned about making money than taking care of patients.