Wellstar and United Healthcare renew relationship in Georgia

After nine months of failed negotiations, this new agreement restores network access to Wellstar’s clinicians, hospitals, health parks and clinics for people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare employer-sponsored, individual and Medicare Advantage plans.
WellStar & United Healthcare
WellStar & United Healthcare(WGCL)
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 9:16 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - UnitedHealthcare and Wellstar Health System have reached an agreement on a new, multi-year network relationship.

This comes after nine months of failed negotiations and several CBS46 investigations, which highlighted how these contract disputes were putting healthcare for hundreds of thousands of Georgians at risk.

One of those Georgians was retired Cobb County teacher, Sandy Arroyo, who lived 15 minutes from Wellstar Kennestone, where he drove fairly regularly because of pre-existing conditions. At the time, he was left with two options: Drive further for in-network care or keep the same doctors, but pay more out-of-pocket.

75-year-old Sandy Arroyo is trying to teach himself the intricacies of healthcare after his...
75-year-old Sandy Arroyo is trying to teach himself the intricacies of healthcare after his insurance company, UnitedHealthcare and his hospital system, Wellstar, cut ties.(CBS46)

“What do I do? Where do I go from here? How do I get my bills paid? And still get the healthcare I need?” Arroyo asked CBS46 investigator Rachel Polansky in January.

This new agreement restores network access to Wellstar’s clinicians, hospitals, health parks and clinics for people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare employer-sponsored, individual and Medicare Advantage plans, effective July 1, 2022.

That means Arroyo and thousands of others can continue seeing their same doctors in-network.

The agreement also expanded access to Wellstar Clinical Partners, skilled nursing facilities, home health and hospice care.

“We know how important it is for patients to have local access to high-quality care from the doctors and hospitals they know and trust,” said Candice L. Saunders, President and CEO of Wellstar Health System. “This agreement will offer expanded access and more convenient options for patients with UnitedHealthcare insurance.”

In Georgia, UnitedHealthcare serves nearly 1.2 million people through a network of more than 150 hospitals and nearly 35,000 physicians and other care providers.

“The care that Wellstar provides to our members is important and personal to them,” said Junior Harewood, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Georgia. “Our top priority throughout this negotiation has been ensuring the people and employers we’re honored to serve in Georgia have access to quality, more affordable health care, and this new agreement helps accomplish that goal.”

UnitedHealthcare members can begin scheduling appointments with Wellstar through MyChart or by calling their clinician’s office. For more information, call 770-956-STAR (7827).