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400,000 patients in Georgia may have to find new doctors by end of month

Anthem BlueCross BlueShield and Northside Hospital are negotiating right now with a deadline of Dec. 31.

ATLANTA — Hundreds of thousands of patients in Georgia could have to find new doctors if Anthem BlueCross BlueShield and Northside Hospital don't reach a new agreement by the end of this month. Some patients are concerned about the possible change.

"This was very surprising and disappointing,” said Nancy Driskell, who lives in Marietta and has autoimmune issues.

"I’ve been at Northside for 20 years, so, to start over again would be tremendous,” said Driskell.

As someone who is immune compromised, Driskell said the timing could not be worse.

"Particularly going into this new COVID variant I want to make sure I have people taking care of me who know my history,” said Driskell.

Northside Hospital said they've had a relationship with the insurance carrier for 30 years and did not see this coming.

“This decision surprised Northside – our agreements with Anthem were not up for renewal and were not set to expire. Nearly 400,000 Northside patients could be affected by this unplanned termination," said Lee Echols, vice president at Northside. 

“Northside has called tens of thousands of patients, making them aware of Anthem’s intentions and providing guidance in their decision-making," Echols added.

11Alive reached out to Anthem and they said these negotiations were prompted by pricing:

"In the metro-Atlanta area, healthcare costs are escalating rapidly. Northside is one of the most expensive systems in Georgia, and the current contract doesn’t adequately align incentives to improve quality and affordability for our members. That’s why we notified officials at Northside that we intend to reach a new agreement by the end of this year so we can keep its facilities and physicians in our network. We know that by working together we can ensure higher quality and better health outcomes for our members."

With no agreement yet in place, patients like Driskell said they just hope something happens, and soon. Both Northside and Anthem BlueCross BlueShield said they are continuing to negotiate and hope to reach a resolution by the end of the month.