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Caught In The Middle Between BCBS And CHI Memorial - And Response (5)

  • Saturday, May 18, 2024

Many of us are currently caught in the middle between two Chattanooga community leaders, Blue Cross Blue Shield and CHI Memorial Hospital. With little to no warning and with even less understanding, patients who depend on both organizations for their cooperation and assistance are left outside looking in with little time to react or respond.

Over the past week, I have received lengthy communications from both parties “explaining” each’s position in not being able to come to an agreement. The short version - both parties blame the other. How insightful. How original. How helpful.

During my professional business career, I participated in nearly a dozen employee bargaining agreements and countless other business-related contractual agreements. I can tell you plainly that when any form of an agreement cannot be reached, it is not the end user (patients in this case) that are really being considered. I don’t care what either party is spewing at this time in their rationalizing communication efforts.

CHI Memorial and BCBS are Chattanooga icons of sorts. They depend on Chattanooga and the surrounding area and have generally displayed their own community leadership with numerous activities designed to benefit us all. In turn, we depend on them to provide us with the security and service that we agreed to and financially support.

CHI Memorial/ BCBS: Please quit blaming each other. Put that energy to solving your issues and return to providing your “customers” with the quality service we deserve, expect, and have always received before. Please.

Gary A. Davis

* * *

Like Gary Davis, I also am caught in the middle and absolutely hate it. I have considered myself fortunate to have BCBS Insurance since 1994. The benefits have been great and have always received excellent customer service.

In 1999 I was diagnosed with an incurable disease and thanks to my BCBS Insurance was able to find my specialist who not only brought me back from the brink of death, but who has kept me alive, healthy, and working ever since. No matter what curveballs my disease has thrown through the years, my doctor is always one step ahead and knows what changes to my regimen to make so that I can live and work and thrive. Thanks to my doctor, my disease is more of a "manageable condition" and I have been able to live a normal life.

Now I am being told I have to choose between the doctor I love and trust and literally owe my life to...or try to find a new insurance company after all these years, if there's even one that will accept pre-existing conditions.

It's despicable to be put in this position after all these years and such a depressing thought that none of the corporate bigwigs care about us.

Cliff Davis

* * *

I, too, am totally disgusted with both BCBST and CHI Memorial. Instead of blaming each other at the expense of your patients and subscribers how's about you put the bottom line on not so important, remember what your mission is, it's not profits, and sit down in good faith and strike a deal? I don't want to start over again with new doctors or new insurance.

Insurance and healthcare should not be driven by profits. You're not some sleazy used car dealer but you sure are behaving like one. Both of you.

Dennis Wooden

* * *

I, too, am beyond livid at the treatment we as customers and patients are receiving from both BCBST and CHI Memorial. However, I lay most of the blame at the feet of BCBST. They hold most of the cards in this game.

Health insurance companies have increasingly become the enemy of effective healthcare – all while raking in literally billions of dollars in profits. They, not the doctors, are the ones that dictate what tests and treatments can be ordered and when -- then threaten to withhold payment if it’s not done “their way.” This leaves patients lost in the middle.

Why can’t we just all be grown-ups? Get this matter settled and move on.

Lori Myers Montgomery

* * *

As we expected, my wife and I received the "official" notice from BCBS that CHI-Memorial Hospital would no longer be a part of their "S" network, effective July 1, 2024. This notice arrived by snail mail yesterday. There was good news - apparently Emergency Room services will be treated as "in network" if I understood the letter.

The debacle between the huge insurer and large hospital is completely unnecessary. As is the case with many issues today, money appears to be the heart of the problem. As is also the case with many issues today, there is always a solution if the price is right.

So, BCBS and CHI Memorial ---- stop playing games with subscribers/patients --- meet someplace in the money arena and agree on how much more you will require to continue operating for the benefit of those who provide that money.

Tim McDonald

* * *

As a heart patient at CHI Memorial and the Chattanooga Heart Institute, the idea that CHI Memorial will no longer accept BCBS is distressing. I have been warned by both parties that I will have to find new cardiology specialists for my continued care after July 1. 

Several years ago CHI Memorial refused to take United Health Care and I switched to BCBS in order to continue using CHI Memorial as my main hospital. I am sure there are many citizens in the same boat. Now both Medicare Advantage programs have been eliminated by CHI Memorial. 

As a state employee I am limited to either United Health Care or BCBS, so I have no choice but to change hospitals and doctors. That is a scary proposition for a heart patient after having bypass surgery and the expert care I received at the Chattanooga Heart Institute. Surely there is some middle approach that can provide the consumer with relief. 

This has been so abrupt it appears illegal if not immoral. Hopefully wiser heads will prevail and at least some breathing room will be allowed instead of short notice. Most of us can’t even change insurance until Jan. 1, 2025.  CHI Memorial is building a new hospital in North Georgia but many of us who are educators will not even be able to use it.

Ben Perry

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