Updated October 5, 2021

Wellstar's hospitals are the most expensive in Atlanta, yet it's demanding a 22% price hike that would increase health care costs by more than $75 million in just one year

Despite successfully negotiating and reaching agreement on a new hospital contract with Wellstar Health System in June 2020, Wellstar issued a termination notice this spring with demands for a 22% price hike for its hospitals and physicians in just the first year of the contract as a condition of continuing our relationship. Agreeing to this would drive up health care costs by more than $75 million in the first year alone, which is not sustainable or affordable for the community, our members and the employer group customers we serve.

It’s unrealistic for Wellstar to demand such an egregiously high rate increase when its hospitals are already significantly more expensive than all other Atlanta hospitals that provide similar services. Health care costs would be reduced by approximately $40 million over the next 12 months if we reimbursed Wellstar’s hospitals at the average rate we pay other major Atlanta hospitals providing similar services, which would translate into significant cost-savings for self-funded employers and lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs for consumers.

Wellstar’s demand for a price hike would make its hospitals rates nearly 50% higher than the average rate of all other Atlanta hospitals providing similar services

Wellstar’s high costs make its demand for a 22% price hike even more outrageous and unreasonable. If we agreed to this exorbitant demand, the cost of care at Wellstar’s hospitals would be nearly 50% higher than the average cost at all of the other major hospitals in Atlanta providing similar services. It would also make Wellstar’s hospitals among the most expensive in the entire state of Georgia.

Wellstar's demand for a price hike would make its hospital rates nearly 50% higher than the average rate of all other Atlanta hospitals providing similar services

Wellstar's high costs make its demand for a 22% price hike even more outrageous and unreasonable. If we agreed to this exorbitant demand, the cost of care at Wellstar's hospitals would be nearly 50% higher than the average cost at all of the other major hospitals in Atlanta providing similar services. It would also make Wellstar's hospitals among the most expensive in the entire state of Georgia.

Wellstar’s demand for annual rate increases would drive up the cost of care by $178 million over the next five years

As if a one-year price hike of 22% isn’t enough, Wellstar is also seeking annual rate increases that – when combined with the health system’s first-year demands – would increase the cost of care at its hospitals and with its physicians by approximately 50% over the next five years. Those annual increases, coupled with the 22% price hike in year one, would equate to a $178 million increase in health care costs over the next five years for Georgia families and employers.

Agreeing to Wellstar’s proposal would also mean the average cost of care at its hospitals for people enrolled in employer-sponsored and individual plans would be more than five times what Medicare would pay the hospital for the same services by 2026. In other words, if Medicare paid Wellstar $100 for a service provided to a senior, the health system would charge more than $500 for the exact same service when provided to a UnitedHealthcare member enrolled in an employer-sponsored plan.

Wellstar’s demand for annual rate increases would drive up the cost of care by $178 million over the next five years

As if a one-year price hike of 22% isn’t enough, Wellstar is also seeking annual rate increases that – when combined with the health system’s first-year demands – would increase the cost of care at its hospitals and with its physicians by approximately 50% over the next five years. Those annual increases, coupled with the 22% price hike in year one, would equate to a $178 million increase in health care costs over the next five years for Georgia families and employers.

Agreeing to Wellstar’s proposal would also mean the average cost of care at its hospitals for people enrolled in employer-sponsored and individual plans would be more than five times what Medicare would pay the hospital for the same services by 2026. In other words, if Medicare paid Wellstar $100 for a service provided to a senior, the health system would charge more than $500 for the exact same service when provided to a UnitedHealthcare member enrolled in an employer-sponsored plan.

We are committed to reaching an agreement that helps ensure the people and employers we serve have access to quality care at an affordable cost

We continue to work to find a long-term solution with Wellstar that ensures the people and employer group customers we’re honored to serve across Georgia have access to quality, affordable care. We hope Wellstar shares our commitment to getting a deal done for the employers and people we mutually serve. If we are unable to reach an agreement, Wellstar’s hospitals and employed physicians will no longer participate in the network for employer-sponsored, individual and Medicare Advantage plans as well as the Veteran Affairs Community Care Network (VACCN), effective Oct. 3, 2021.