About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Insurance dispute pushes public relations campaigns to new levels

Dr. Steven Mussey's take on the insurance dispute first appeared in yesterday's paper.

The major players took out ads in The Free Lance-Star yesterday to offer their takes on the dispute between Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Mary Washington Healthcare.

In case you missed the ads, here’s a snippet from each:

Anthem bought space to criticize Mary Washington, saying that it is “demanding rate increases that we believe would make health care costs too high for our members.” Anthem listed “alternative hospitals,” or those in the area that are in its network. It said, “If you use one of the hospitals that continues to stay in our network, you’ll receive the most value from your health care benefits.”

One of Anthem’s “alternative hospitals” is the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center. It joined the debate with an ad that said that it “accepts Anthem insurance as one of our many insurance providers.” Its ad also lists the 330-plus doctors who have clinical privileges there. The list would be useful to an Anthem customer who is contemplating where to have surgery or other type of treatment. Generally, a doctor must have privileges at a hospital before he or she can see patients there.

In its ad, Mary Washington repeats its pledge to ask Anthem customers to “pay what you would if we were in network. This includes deductibles.” It also assures Medicare customers that since its facilities are in network with Medicare, they are also in network with Anthem’s secondary insurance plans.

Radiologic Associates of Fredericksburg bought space to say that it supports Mary Washington Healthcare in the dispute. It added that it has a separate agreement with Anthem “that is unaffected by the MWHC negotiations and will continue to accept Anthem patients as an in-network provider.” The ad also applied to Medical Imaging of Fredericksburg and Virginia Interventional and Vascular Associates.