Insurance deal ends for Mississippi health system’s patients

Published 3:24 pm Friday, April 1, 2022

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The insurance agreement between Mississippi’s academic medical center and Blue Cross & Blue Shield has ended, with the hospital saying some patients will pay more and others might have to leave Mississippi for certain services.

The contract between the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the insurance firm ended at the close of March after the two sides failed to reach agreement over how much the insurer would pay for patient care, The Clarion Ledger reported.

The end of the agreement means the state’s largest insurer has dropped all of the health system’s hospitals, clinics, physicians and providers from its network, the University of Mississippi Medical Center said.

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The medical center said that some of its patients might have to leave Mississippi for services. Examples of those services include organ transplants or specialty care for infants and children with complex or rare diseases, the medical center said in a statement. Thousands of patients needing specialty care and services only offered in Mississippi by the medical center will pay higher costs because they’re no longer in the Blue Cross network, it said.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield has been working with the medical center to renew their contract with the network’s hospitals since early 2021, company spokesperson Cayla Mangrum said in a statement. The University of Mississippi Medical Center was requiring significant payment increases of more than 50% for certain services and an overall 30% increase, she said.

The medical center asked to be funded at the level of comparable academic medical centers in regional cities such as Birmingham, Memphis or New Orleans, the medical center said in a statement. The 30% rate increase it sought “moves us closer to –- not equal to or more than -– market rates,” Dr. LouAnn Woodward, the vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of School of Medicine, said in a statement.

“We must have fair reimbursement so that we can provide the services, programs and facilities that patients and families need and must have, now and in the future,” she said.