Piedmont, Aetna reach contract agreement

After weeks of contract negotiations that caused worry and confusion among patients, Piedmont Healthcare and insurance provider Aetna announced Monday they reached a tentative agreement.

The deal was expected to be finalized Monday afternoon – one day before the contract was slated to be terminated.

Piedmont is a popular network among Aetna customers, so it was very important to reach a conclusion, said John Price, president of the Georgia market for the insurance giant.

“We’re happy, at this point,” Price said. We have a partner in Piedmont that we’re looking forward to working with for the next three years.”

The two providers have been locked in contract negotiations for weeks with one of the main disagreements over rates.

“We are very pleased that we were able to reach a resolution for our four hospitals,” Piedmont officials said in a statement.

Both sides sent out letters in recent weeks informing patients that the contract would be terminated if an agreement couldn’t be reached by Jan. 31. A contract termination would have meant Aetna customers favoring Piedmont having to seek out new doctors or pay higher out-of-pocket costs to see their current physicians out-of-network.

Piedmont’s hospitals, as well as more than 700 physicians, would also have been impacted by a contract termination.

But it’s back to business as usual.

There will be no disruption in services, said Aetna spokesman Walt Cherniak. Aetna has between 500,000 to 600,000 customers in Georgia.

According to Piedmont, patients who canceled appointments or procedures with Piedmont hospitals or doctors can reschedule. Patients with an Aetna HMO who already selected a new doctor can return to their Piedmont physicians, the health system said.