St. Pete workers nervous about insurance coverage at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital because of dispute
Of the city’s 2,600 workers, many have children. An exact number is unknown because of patient privacy rules.
But it’s safe to say that if you work for the city and you have kids, you’re probably nervous tonight.
That’s because of a contract dispute between the city’s insurer United Health Care and John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.
A breakdown in negotiations between the hospital and the insurance company prompted an email to be sent to city employees late Wednesday stating that starting today new patients would have to pay out-of-network fees if they wanted to use All Children’s.
These types of contract disputes are fairly common. City Human Resources Director Chris Guella cited a 2012 dispute involving BayCare a recent example.
But City Council members at a prep session for the May 11 meeting on Thursday wanted to know more, saying they’d been getting frantic emails.
“It’s causing angst for them,” said council member Amy Foster.
Guella said that employees with children currently receiving care at All Children’s will be able to continue to do so under a “continuity of care” at in-network rates for a period of time. A memo to the city from United cited patients undergoing serious medical treatments like cancer as qualifying for continued care.
Other employees could seek pediatric care at other in-network providers or pay higher out-of-network fees at All Children’s if they aren’t covered by the continuity of care provisions, Guella said.
Foster requested that city staff update City Council on the dispute at next week’s meeting if it hasn’t been resolved. She said she wanted a public airing of the issue.
The dispute doesn’t just affect St. Petersburg. Pinellas County and Tampa might also be affected, Guella wrote in an email.