WOONSOCKET â€“ UnitedHealthcare and Landmark Medical Center have ironed out a new contract that restores 52 physicians with admitting privileges at the hospital to the health insurerâ€™s coverage network, the parties announced.
UnitedHealthcare dropped Landmark from its coverage network after the hospital was purchased last year by the for-profit, California-based hospital chain, Prime Healthcare Services.
The two parties have been trying to firm up a new contract since.
During the lapse of more than seven months, UnitedHealthcare subscribers from the Greater Woonsocket area could still go to Landmark for emergency treatment without a hit on their wallet, but many were forced to pay additional costs or go to another hospital for elective procedures.
â€śIâ€™m thrilled to say weâ€™re back to the way it was before,â€ť said Landmark President Richard Charest. â€śWe believe people in this area should have complete access to Landmark Medical Center.â€ť
Maria Gordon Shydlo, spokeswoman for UnitedHealthcare, said letters were sent to subscribers with a history of using Landmark advising them of their return to "in-network" status, effective immediately. Shydlo said she didnâ€™t know how many letters went out, but anyone who had received UnitedHealthcare benefits from the Greater Woonsocket area within 18 months prior to the expiration of the contract will get one.
Statewide, UnitedHealthcare has about 250,000 subscribers for an assortment or Medicare, Medicaid and commercial insurance products, but she said the company doesnâ€™t break down the subscriber base by region.
Itâ€™s clear the deal is hugely significant to Landmark from a financial standpoint. Charest said revenues from UnitedHealthcare account for about a fifth of all the hospitalâ€™s annual revenues, or about $20 million a year.
Judging from calls to radio talk shows and lunch counter chatter around town, patients covered by UnitedHealthcare were confused and upset after Landmark was dropped from the companyâ€™s network. Charest said many covered patients who wanted elective procedures at Landmark faced additional costs to stay in the network, but the amounts varied depending on individual plans.
The contract was suspended on Jan. 1, the day after the sale of Landmark to Prime closed. Prior to the sale, Landmark had been in receivership since June 2008.
The parties tried to get a new contract in place as quickly as possible, Charest said.
â€śUnfortunately, it took a lot longer than intended, but it wasnâ€™t for lack of trying on both sides,â€ť he said. â€śIt was a very complicated contract.â€ť
Although Prime had contracts in place with other insurance companies before the $60 million sale closed, UnitedHealthcare was not one of them.
Follow Russ Olivo on Twitter @russolivo