ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Many Abilene residents with Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) health insurance have been confused by a letter they’ve recently received from the company, regarding a change between BCBS and Hendrick Health.

The letter text, as obtained by BigCountryHomepage.com, was dated December 1, 2022, and reads as follows:

Dear Valued Member,
We want to give you some important information about your provider network. On February 1, 2023, Hendrick Health and associated professional providers will no longer be a part of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan Preferred network, unless a new agreement can be reached.
We will continue to pay for covered benefits at the Preferred level until 90 days from the date of this letter. That is March 1, 2023.
After January 31, 2023, this provider may not submit your claims for you anymore. You might need to pay your provider upfront and then submit a claim to us. You can download the claim form at fepblue.org/forms.
After January 31, 2023, you will need to request approval for any planned inpatient hospital stays. If you don’t, we’ll reduce your benefits by $500.
What happens after March 1, 2023
Standard Option Members
This provider doesn’t have to accept our payment (allowance) as payment in full anymore. This could mean much higher out-of-pocket costs for you. Here’s why: You’ll pay your deductable (if you haven’t met it yet) + your portion of our Non-preferred provider allowance (coinsurance) + the remainder of what the provider charges (balance-billed charges). The co-insurance and balance-billed charges can be significant.
Basic Option and FEP Blue Focus Members
You don’t have benefits for care provided by Non-preferred providers. That means you’ll pay the full cost when you visit this/these providers unless you’re visiting in an emergency situation.

BigCountryHomepage.com reached out to both Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas and Hendrick Health for clarity.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas told BigCountryHomepage.com Hendrick sent the insurance provider a notice of termination, demanding higher prices by next February.

Statement from BCBS in full:

Hendrick Health in Abilene sent us a notice of termination and a demand for higher prices. If we don’t agree to its demands, Hendrick intends to leave our networks on Feb. 1, 2023.
We are negotiating, in good faith, and committed to reaching an agreement that will continue to give Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas members access to Hendrick doctors and hospitals at a fair price.
While we want agreements that compensate Hendrick fairly, their rate demand is clearly not in the best interests of our members, Abilene businesses or the communities we serve in the region.
As a customer-owned health insurance industry leader in Texas for more than 90 years, it is important to stand up for affordable care, especially in a time when most businesses and our members in the Abilene region are facing inflationary pressures and a potential recession.
If we don’t sign new contracts, Hendrick doctors, hospitals and home health services will leave these networks on Feb. 1, 2023:

  • Blue Choice PPOSM
  • Blue EssentioalsSM
  • Blue Advantage HMOSM

If Hendrick leaves our network, we will do everything we can to help members move their care to quality, cost-effective, in-network hospitals. Members have several ways to find in-network care:

  • Visit our online Provider Finder®
  • Register for or log in to Blue Access for MembersSM
  • Call the Customer Service number on their ID card

Members being treated for a pregnancy, disability, acute condition or life-threatening illness may qualify as a continuity of care patient. This means they may still be able to receive care at in-network rates at Hendrick even after it leaves our networks. To find out if they are eligible, members can call the number on their ID card for more information.

Hendrick said it and BCBS has been working towards coming to a new contract agreement, but are still in negotiations.

Statement from Hendrick Health in full:

As part of the normal course of business between a healthcare provider and insurance company, Hendrick Health has been working with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas in good faith to negotiate a new contract for Hendrick Medical Center and Hendrick Medical Center South services in Abilene, and Hendrick Clinic and Hendrick Anesthesia Network providers in Abilene and Brownwood. We are making progress in our discussions, but have not yet reached an agreement. We are hopeful that the parties reach an updated agreement appropriate for both BCBSTX and Hendrick that reflects the high-quality care Hendrick delivers before the contract is scheduled to end on Feb. 1, 2023.

For more details, BCBS said members can call the Customer Service number, located on the back of their ID card.