Very quitely an insurance problem with Blue Cross-Blue Shield has grown into a crisis problem for thousands of East Texans and it starts with doctor fees being lowered under the plan. "This new fee schedule would lower some of our fee schedules up to 50 percent. Our most performed procedure was lowered by 50 percent. While we have always been open to negotiation with them, this is a take it or leave it proposition" says Longview surgeon Dr. Matt Holcomb.
And a lot of Longview doctors are leaving it., no longer willing to accept Blue Cross-Blue Shield. "The majority of physicians as I understand it in Longview are not going to participate in Blue Cross" Holcomb says.
Thousands will be affected, like cancer patient Cathy Stark who makes frequent doctor visits. "I may have to drive as far as Tyler of Shreveport to find a doctor in the network. You go back weekly for a while, then every three months then every six months, you're looking at least five years and that's if nothing else comes up," says Stark.
And dozens of companies and school districts are covered under Blue Cross-Blue Shield. Hundreds of employees will look at paying out of pocket costs for health care. "If they get the insurance and this doesn't get resolved with the doctors, that means they have no doctors but very high premiums, and essentially worthless insurance," according to office manager Melinda McGinnis of Union Grove schools.
We spoke with Blue Cross representatives who didn't give any answers as to what they're doing to solve the problem.. They just referred us to corporate offices who didn't return our calls. While lowering doctor fees, they haven't lowered customer premiums, leaving many to say they just can't be sick of need medical attention.
Many doctors in our area, from general practitioners to specialists to surgeons, say they will stop accepting Blue Cross-Blue Shield by October 4th.