News that 2,250 Connecticut doctors have been dropped from Medicare Advantage plan by UHC starting in February has caused worry for doctors and patients in the state. According to “Fox and Friends” live on Thursday morning Oct. 17, the reasons for dismissing these doctors are not very clear.
While very little information on why United Health Care has removed these doctors from their plan has been offered, many suspect the reason may be profit based. Fairfield County Medical Association has posted the number of doctor cuts statewide on their website.
News Channel 8 in New Haven reports on Oct. 16 the anxiety is on the rise about the numbers of doctors no longer being able to see their UHC Medicare Advantage patients. A Shelton Ophthalmologist, Dr. James Pinke has his termination letter displayed for his patients to see.
Pinke, who is one of the many doctors dropped from UHC, said he had no idea what happened. He signed a contract with them in August and last week he was notified he is no longer on their list. No one at UHC will talk to him, as is the claim of other doctors around the state.
This elimination of doctors in their network will cause problems for patient care. Pinke talks about a woman with eye disease that he’s treated for 10 years. Now she will have to travel far to see a specialist inside the network.
A practice of primary care physicians in Trumbull just don’t know what to do. They haven’t been given a reason for being dropped from UHC. They can’t appeal without knowing a reason for being fired from their network, explains Dr. Richard Seeker.
Some patients complained that they called UHC before signing up for another year to see if they covered their personal doctors for next year. Some were told “yes,” only to find out they’re not covered.
United Healthcare has “major operations in Connecticut.” When UHC first notified the doctors that they will be dropped, the Fairfield County Medical Association posted the news on their website.
The association, which represents doctors and other medical professionals, claims that by UHC doing this for the end result of higher reimbursements. There are 810 primary care physicians and 1,440 specialists dropped by UHC. This represents 19% of UHC’s Connecticut physician network, according to Hartford Business.com last month.
With 2,200 doctors dropped, many people in the state will know someone who will lose their doctor or have a family member who won’t be able to continue with the doctor of their choice due to this new development. UCH would not confirm the claims about the number of impacted doctors made by the Fairfield association.
You can check the UHC website to see if your doctor is still on their list for 2014.
UHC released a statement as a response to questions about the doctor cuts in Connecticut. The statement released last month included:
United is "building a network of health care providers that we can collaborate with more closely to have the most positive impact on the quality of care for our members."