ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Many Big Country residents have been caught in the crossfire as insurance provider Blue Cross Blue Shield and Hendrick Health struggle to come to a contract agreement. As of late, the two businesses have been in conversations that could leave thousands in the Abilene area with few local healthcare options.

“They are one of the biggest insurers in our region, and unfortunately, if they can’t come to an agreement by February 1st, Blue Cross patients will be considered out-of-network with Hendrick facilities,” explained Big Country County Medical Society President Elect Dr. Jason Acevedo.

A BCBS statement to BigCountryHomepage.com said a “a notice of termination and a demand for higher prices” was submitted by Hendrick. Meanwhile, Hendrick called the contract negotiations a “normal course of business” between the companies in its statement.

These things, unfortunately, I think, are kind of the nature of the beast,” Dr. Acevedo said.

Both companies said they are in good faith negotiations, but a letter sent to some BCBS members warning of the impending February 1 deadline has many concerned.

A Member notification letter sent out by BCBS

“My hope is they are able to work that out and we aren’t affected. I think the stress is more… ‘What do we do right now,'” pondered BCBS member Megan Roth.

Roth, a self-employed mother of two, told KTAB/KRBC these negotiations come right as she is in the middle of open enrollment for insurance. Although she has been with BCBS, she said the decision ahead is not as clear as she’d like it to be.

“Do I choose a different plan that I know Hendrick is on, so that I have the convenience of being able to get care here in Abilene if I need to,” Roth questioned aloud. “Or do I take the chance and stick with my current plan?”

Even so, Roth said she actually considers herself lucky to be able to choose – knowing that those who are insured by their employer may already be locked into another year, that may not include trips to Hendrick.

As one of the largest insurance providers in the Big Country, BCBS is the provider of choice for a number of Abilene employees. Abilene ISD, The City of Abilene, Walmart, and even BCBS employees will all be directly impacted by this decision.

“There’s no good versus evil,” reasoned Dr. Acevedo. “It’s just coming to the best possible agreement for both parties.”

While Dr. Acevedo said he was confident that the companies are working to resolve the issue, thousands are left at the mercy of these medical juggernauts while they wait.

“Blue cross is my insurance, so I can see both sides of the argument. But I think the leadership of both parties… They want to come to an understanding,” Dr. Acevedo added.