SPRINGFIELD — With deadlines for many fast approaching, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and CoxHealth are still in talks to strike a deal.
The termination of the deal between the two sides has been pushed back and is effective January 8th. This allows for more time to negotiations, but it is still forcing some to make a choice long before then, including federal workers, and Medicare beneficiaries.
Laura Cowart is the Chapter 11 President of the National and Retired Federal Employees Association. She and other federal employees are feeling the effects of having to wait out the talks between Anthem and Cox.
“To have to make a decision to change companies because you can no longer go to Cox and pay within network prices, you’ll have to find new physicians,” Cowart says. “That can be a hard thing to do. A lot of people who are very comfortable with their current physicians don’t want to do that.”
The deadline for federal employees is December 11th, but people who are Medicare Advantage beneficiaries must decide by December 7th.
Ty James is a Medicare agent with Secure Insurance Group. They have been trying to help those affected by the potential change.
“We’ve let them know the situation. We can hold out until Thursday. That is as far as we can go,” James says. “Thursday we need to make a decision. Do we stay with Anthem or do we move to another plan?”
James says Medicare beneficiaries who don’t want to wait around to see if a deal signed can go with one of the following four options:
For those determined to stay with Anthem, James says there is a way to not switch hospital systems for the time being.
“If you stay with Anthem, and they end up not signing a contract you have until March 31st to go to Cox. After that, you have to go to Mercy,” James explains. “Everything on the Medicare side, you can get away with not having to switch your doctor. You can just switch your plan to accommodate the doctors.”