UnitedHealth, Northwestern's 1,200-physician group may split by year's end

Chicago-based Northwestern Medical Group may no longer be a part of UnitedHealthcare's network if an agreement between the two organizations expires without resolution Jan. 1, according to a notice on Northwestern's website.

Northwestern Medical Group is the 1,200-member physician arm of Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine. Services at the system's seven hospitals would not be affected by a contract lapse.

"We are working in good faith with UnitedHealthcare to provide competitive and market appropriate rates for the world-class care you receive," according to the health system's website. "We are currently in negotiations working closely with UnitedHealthcare, and we hope to reach an agreement soon."

Northwestern said if the dispute is unresolved, patients choosing to continue receiving care from Northwestern Medical Group physicians will be considered out of network and pay higher costs. It is unclear how many policyholders would be affected, but UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Group Retirees will not be affected.

UnitedHealthcare told Becker's Hospital Review, "UnitedHealthcare recognizes the role Northwestern Medical Group's physicians play in supporting the healthcare needs of our members, and our two organizations continue to meet regularly in an effort to reach a solution that will renew our relationship for employer-sponsored, individual and Medicare Advantage health plans prior to Jan. 1, 2019."

Editor's note: This article was updated July 26 at 8:57 a.m. CT.

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