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Healthcare Dispute Leaves Many Without Hospital Coverage

With the contract now expired between UnitedHealthcare and BayCare Health System, many residents are likely to start feeling the pinch.

For weeks, Bay area residents were warned by the BayCare Health System and UnitedHealthcare insurance that contract negotiations weren’t going well.

Letters from both parties arrived in the mail, alerting holders of UnitedHealthcare insurance policies that their doctors and favorite hospitals might no longer be covered.

The deadline to ink a new deal came and went without an agreement reached. That now means some 400,000 Tampa Bay area residents with UnitedHealthcare insurance can no longer expect coverage at 11 area hospitals, numerous doctors’ offices and a number of imaging centers and specialized centers.

In Land O' Lakes, residents who count on St. Joseph's Hospital-North for their medical care might have to go elsewhere for assistance. The expired contract affects those with standard UnitedHealthcare insurance policies and also those who have United as their carrier for Medicaid, Florida Healthy Kids and Medicare Advantage plans.

The full implications of the dispute between UnitedHealthcare and BayCare are still being determined. Even so, it is clear that BayCare is the Tampa Bay region’s largest healthcare provider. In addition to St. Joseph's, the company also operates Morton Plant and St. Anthony’s hospitals.

TBO.com has compiled some information that UnitedHealthcare policy holders can use to help them navigate the coming days of finding new doctors and hospitals. The news outlet also reports that United hasn’t ruled out the possibility of further talks to get the BayCare system back on its plans.

To find out if the expiration of the BayCare contract will impact your coverage at area doctors or hospitals, call UnitedHealthcare’s customer service line, which is printed on the back of policy holder’s insurance cards.

Is your doctor no longer covered? Will you have to switch hospitals or healthcare providers? What hospital will you now choose for your care? Share your story in the comments section.

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