KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - Starting Jan. 1, the only in-network provider in the healthcare exchange will be the BlueCross BlueShield Network S plan.
The 6,200 patients at UT Medical Center who receive their insurance through the marketplace got letters in the mail informing them they will need to find new doctors because BlueCross BlueShield Network S does not include UT Medical Center.
Steve Ross with UT Medical Center says this was beyond the hospital's control.
"The reality of that is now the exchange patients, because we are not in Network S, are out of network starting January first for UT Medical Center and its physicians," Ross said.
Melissa Nance sees an oncologist at the hospital every month for her Leukemia. She will now have to find another doctor.
"No one wants to change doctors when they have a doctor that they like and has been with them for the two years so far in their treatment path," said Nance. "When you already have to deal with cancer and now you're having to, in the middle of your treatment, find a new doctor, that's just a whole other level of stress."
Nance says this is just another roadblock in trying to get affordable and accessible healthcare.
"We're talking about people who are trying to live the American dream and own businesses, and they're struck down with cancer and can't get the care that they need and that shouldn't happen in America," said Nance.
Those patients affected have a few options. They can pay out of pocket to stay at UT Medical Center, contact BlueCross BlueShield and make a case to keep their physicians, or switch to other doctors within the network such as Tennova or Summit Medical.
WATE reached out to BlueCross BlueShield and received the following statement:
"Network S is BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's select provider network. In the Knoxville region, members with Marketplace coverage can receive in-network care at Covenant and Tennova facilities. These Network S partners help us bring value to members through quality programs and by offering some of the area's most affordable options for care.
If BlueCross members have a true emergency, they should go to the closest emergency room of their choice. BlueCross plans allow members to receive care at any emergency room, but they will get the most from their benefits if they use an in-network ER.
Individuals with Marketplace plans who are currently being cared for by a UT Medical Center physician can call BlueCross Blue Shield at 1-800-294-3845 if they have concerns about ongoing treatment, or if they need help coordinating their care."