CHI St. Vincent said Thursday that, effective April 1, its physicians and services will not be considered in-network for United Healthcare members.
The health care system said the decision comes "after months of good faith negotiating." It said its contract had already been extended twice from its original expiration date of March 1 in an effort to reach an agreement.
Negotiations will continue, the health care system said.
The contract served more than 30,000 UHC members and included CHI St. Vincent hospitals in Hot Springs, Little Rock, Morrilton and Sherwood.
United Healthcare, of Minnetonka, Minnesota, has more than 326,000 members in Arkansas, which includes commercial businesses and Medicare beneficiaries.
"We are disappointed that United has been unwilling to agree to fair and reasonable rates for our services to date," CEO Chad Aduddell said in a news release. "Our goal has been, and always will be, to serve our communities and to provide excellent patient care … It is important we have partners that help support our ministry and efforts to maintain the highest quality patient care."
But Angela Richmond, director of regional communications for UHC, told Arkansas Business, "St. Vincent's continues to seek rate increases that are not in line with the rest of the community. We are offering fair and competitive reimbursement rates that appropriately cover the cost of care provided by St. Vincent Hospitals and are similar to what other providers in the community are paid for similar services.”
She added that the insurance company offers other in-network hospitals in the Little Rock area, including Baptist Health Medical Center, Baptist Memorial Medical Center, the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS), Arkansas Heart Hospital, Arkansas Surgical Hospital and North Metro Medical Center.
UHC members can also get in-network care at the National Park Medical Center in Hot Springs National Park and Baptist Health Medical Center in Hot Springs County.
Richmond also said, in the event of an emergency, members are always advised to go to the nearest hospital and their services will be covered at the in-network benefit level.
CHI St. Vincent said UHC members can access CHI St. Vincent services, including hospitals and physicians, through the end of day on March 31 and receive in-network benefits.