Updated March 11, 2022

Wellstar recently responded to our Dec. 17 proposal with essentially the same demands it had previously proposed.

We were hopeful Wellstar would accept our latest proposal, which met all of Wellstar’s demands with the exception of the health system’s unreasonable 40% price hike it continues to seek for its hospitals, which are already the highest cost in Atlanta. Unfortunately, with the exception of changing some of the effective dates of the contract, Wellstar responded with the same exact proposal it had previously delivered to us. Contrary to what Wellstar communicated, we responded to the health system’s proposal.

Each of Wellstar’s last four proposals dating back to September have maintained its request for a 40% price hike for its hospitals, which would inflate health care costs by $90 million. These continued exorbitant demands make it apparent that Wellstar has no interest in making health care affordable for Georgia residents and employers.

Agreeing to Wellstar’s proposal would make its hospitals significantly higher cost than the average of all other major hospitals in Atlanta over the next three years. Wellstar seems to believe it’s entitled to be paid significantly more than its peers, yet only one of Wellstar’s 11 hospitals is ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the best hospitals in Georgia. Northside, Emory and Piedmont each have three or more hospitals ranked as best hospitals in the state.

Because Wellstar continues to flood the market with misinformation, we believe it’s important to set some facts straight. You deserve the truth.

Please click the following fact sheets, which provide you a comprehensive and transparent overview of where things currently stand in our negotiation and correct some the inaccuracies Wellstar communicated over the past several months. 

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.

We’ve met all of Wellstar’s demands with the exception of its proposed 40% price hike for its hospitals, which are already the highest cost in Atlanta.

From the onset of our negotiation, Wellstar communicated that one of its top priorities was to update our contract to more fully recognize Wellstar Clinical Partners (WCP) as a clinically integrated network. As part of our efforts to compromise, we have done just that, offering to bring the WCP physicians under one clinically integrated contract while providing WCP the rate increases Wellstar sought.

As Wellstar is well aware, the only issue remaining on the table is its egregious price hike demands for its hospitals, which are already the highest cost in our Atlanta network. Throughout the entirety of our negotiation, Wellstar has refused to move off its demand for a 40% price hike for its hospitals over the next three years, including an 18% rate increase in just the first year of the contract. Agreeing to Wellstar’s proposal would increase health care costs at its hospitals by $90 million over the next three years, which is not affordable or sustainable for Georgia residents and employers.

Wellstar’s egregious price hike demands would increase premiums and out-of-pocket costs for our members as well as the cost of doing business for companies that simply want to offer affordable health care coverage for their employees. Wellstar’s proposal would directly drive up health care costs for our self-insured customers, given that these employers pay the cost of their employees’ medical bills themselves rather than relying on UnitedHealthcare to pay those claims. In the Atlanta area, more than 70% of our members are enrolled in self-insured plans. Several of these businesses would see their health care costs increase between $1.3 million to more than $9 million over the next three years if we accepted Wellstar’s proposal.

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 reneged on a deal we recently made in summer 2020 and terminated our contract.

It's unfortunate Wellstar continues to inexplicably maintain its egregious demands given we just renewed our hospital contract with the health system in the summer of 2020. Yet Wellstar issued a notice to end our contract less than one year after signing the deal, disrupting access to care for the people we collectively serve.

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 price hike demands would make its hospital rates significantly higher than the average rate of all other Atlanta hospitals providing similar services.

Wellstar's high costs make its price hike demands for its hospitals even more outrageous and unreasonable. If we agreed to this exorbitant demand, the cost of care at Wellstar's hospitals would significantly higher than the average cost at all of the other major hospitals in Atlanta providing similar services.

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 four times what Medicare would pay Wellstar’s hospital for the same service. In other words, if Wellstar charged $100 for a service provided to a senior on Medicare, it would charge more than $400 for the exact same service when provided to a UnitedHealthcare member enrolled in an employer-sponsored plan by 2024.

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 has repeatedly stated that the contract it is seeking would result in reimbursement similar to those from other health insurance providers.

Look no further than the health plan transparency rates that were previously published on Wellstar’s website and are available by clicking here to draw the simple conclusion that this message from Wellstar is false. Please note that Wellstar removed all data related to what we were reimbursing the health system shortly after we shared the transparency information posted on the health system’s website.

We urge Wellstar to accept our latest proposal without further delay and restore network access for the people and communities we serve so they can have access to care at an affordable cost.

We recognize this has been a challenging process for the people we serve who rely on Wellstar for their health care needs. We do not take this type of disruption in the market lightly. Our top priority is ensuring our members have access to the care they need while making health care affordable for them and the employers we serve. We urge Wellstar to sign our latest proposal without further delay or requesting additional price hikes Georgia residents and businesses cannot afford and end the disruption for the communities we serve.