Patients may lose doctors amid pricing dispute between healthcare provider, insurance company

The current contract between Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat and United Healthcare expires May 15.
Charlotte Eye, Ear, Nose & Throat patients could soon have to pay out-of-pocket due to a pricing dispute with United Healthcare.
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 9:30 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat (CEENTA) is a leader in allergy and specialized care in the Charlotte-Metro area. By next week, thousands of their patients could lose access to services.

The provider informed patients back in February that they would be dropping a major health insurer, United Healthcare (UHC), by May 15, unless they came to an agreement.

As of Wednesday, there’s no deal.

CEENTA said price negotiations like these are normal, and this is the first time they’ve asked for an increase in rates in the past five years. They also said supply and staffing costs hinder them from accepting a reduction in payments.

However, UHC said the medical provider is demanding a 15 percent rate increase, a price they say is too high. They also said the provider has also not finalized terms for Medicare and Medicaid patients.

Although both want an agreement, the lack of one could lead thousands of patients to search for a different provider or pay thousands out of pocket.

“I end up on the losing end,” said Tom Strini, a CEENTA patient who, with the help of United Healthcare, gets eye injections for his unusual eye condition every 6-8 weeks.

He said without an agreement, he will likely have to pay thousands more to get what he needs to see.

“When you’re collecting $2,000 a month and your eye injections are $2,200 a month, you’ve got to make compromises somewhere,” he said.

The current contract between the two expires this coming Monday, May 15.

Both parties said they’re hopeful they can come to a conclusion, but nothing is set in stone.

United Healthcare said if you’re a patient with questions, call the number on the back of your insurance card.

They added that for those in the middle of treatment, like pregnant mothers or most cancer patients, don’t worry. You have an exception, and your care will continue.

Related: Charlotte medical provider plans to stop accepting a major health insurance