YAVAPAI COUNTY, Ariz. — Editor's note: This is an outdated article. As of Feb. 8, Blue Cross Blue Shield is officially no longer accepted at Yavapai Regional Medical Center and Yavapai Regional Medical Group. See the latest updates on this story by clicking here.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona and Dignity Health's Yavapai Regional Medical Center and Yavapai Regional Medical Group are down to the last day of negotiations before people have a tough choice to make: Pay more or drive further for affordable medical care.
Earlier this week, negotiations were extended, allowing those who have Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) to be still covered in-network through Thursday.
The two companies have been in negotiations for months.
Tim Anderson, who lives in Prescott, and who has BCBSAZ as supplemental health insurance to Medicare, is concerned over the news.
However, a Dignity Health spokesperson told 12News members like Anderson wouldn't be affected if the two sides can't find an agreement.
"I think cooler heads will prevail; they'll get it taken care of. But the way they've gone about this is just very poor. They shouldn't put their customers in turmoil," Anderson told 12News.
Sen. Mark Kelly, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema and Rep. Eli Crane sent a letter to Dignity Health and BCBSAZ encouraging them to extend coverage while negotiations continue.
Local Republican state legislators also sent a letter to Yavapai Regional Medical Center concerned with those who rely on Dignity Health's services.
Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Chairman James Gregory also encouraged the two sides to continue negotiations Tuesday.
"This failure to come to an agreement will adversely affect thousands of Yavapai County residents who are insured through Blue Cross Blue Shield and rely on Dignity Health as the sole provider of medical services in the region," Gregory said in part of a press release.
Still, in a release Wednesday, both BCBSAZ and Dignity Health were hopeful they'd reach an agreement.
"It can sometimes be very difficult to come to terms with what the reimbursement, the payment rate will be for those services," said Dr. Dan Derksen, associate vice president for Health Servies at the University of Arizona.
Derksen said while negotiations between hospitals and insurance companies are common, there are more challenges now.
"The costs have gone up from materials and supplies. The workforce prices have gone up as we've seen a lot of shortages. We don't have enough physicians; we don't have enough nurses. We don't have enough health personnel," Derksen said.
Derksen expects the two sides will work out an agreement to keep BCBSAZ members in-network at Yavapai Regional Medical Center and Yavapai Regional Medical Group. No agreement has been reached yet.
"In that area, they serve a very important function. And when people do have health insurance, and they've been paying premiums every month, they reasonably expect to be able to access the care in the area that's convenient for them," Derksen said.
If the two sides don't reach an agreement before midnight, 12News is told emergency care would still be covered for BCBSAZ members.
"If Yavapai Regional Medical Center goes out of network at midnight tonight, we will be notifying members digitally, by mail and have online resources where members can check their status," Amanda Siedler, a spokesperson with BCBSAZ, told 12News in an email Thursday.
Siedler also added members' in-process hospital stays and treatment will be able to be completed in-network.
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