FORT MYERS, Fla.- Lee Memorial Hospital is ending a contract with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida that will affect certain medicare patients.
The insurance company sent a letter notifying customers about the changes.
The letter is dated November 14, 2011.
Starting January 1, 2012 medicare patients with certain supplemental policies will have to pay a deductible if they're admitted to Lee Memorial Hospital.
A spokeswoman for the hospital says Blue Cross was notified a year ago about the change.
Mary Briggs of Lee Memorial Health System said, "It's Blue Cross's policy, so they have to notify the patients. It was our understanding that they were going to work with their patients over the year, because they've known since last December."
The decision impacts the following plans:
BlueMedicare Supplement Select
Advantage65 Premier Select
Advantage 65 Medicare
The change will only affect in-hospital stays.
Up until now, the deductible has been waived for patients with these plans, but because of the rising cost, many hospitals like Lee Memorial are phasing out those plan types.
Blue Cross Blue Shield notes that patients who are hospitalized while the contract expires will still have their deductible waived until they are discharged.
It's up to the customer to choose a different hospital or policy after that, or pay higher out-of-pocket costs.
Tuesday, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida issued the following statement:
For any hospital that participates in a Medicare Advantage Plan, they are required by federal regulation to waive any inpatient cost related to care. Lee Memorial Hospital notified Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida that they no longer wished to cover that impatient cost for our members, therefore deciding to no longer participate in this specific Medicare supplemental plan with us.
We have worked diligently with Lee Memorial to identify ways to reduce costs so they would reconsider their decision. But Lee Memorial remains committed to no longer covering our members' inpatient costs as required by federal regulation.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida is dedicated to providing our members with high-quality and affordable health coverage. We encourage our members impacted by Lee Memorial's decision to contact us directly so that we can provider solutions for them.
If you think you have one of the plans affected and would like more information, you can reach a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida customer service representative by calling, (800) 926-6565.