Phoenix Children’s, Aetna reach agreement 3 months after hospital dropped from network

Parents are breathing a sigh of relief after Phoenix Children's struck an insurance deal with Aetna.
Published: Oct. 6, 2023 at 10:41 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) Three months after Aetna dropped Phoenix Children’s Hospital from its network, the two sides have announced a contract agreement. On Friday, Phoenix Children’s and Aetna announced a multi-year agreement with a retroactive effective date of Aug. 7, meaning patient families will receive in-network coverage since the time the original deal ended.

“We recognize contract discussions can be especially stressful on the one group of people we are all aiming to serve – patient families – and we don’t take this responsibility to get it right lightly,” Robert L. Meyer, President and CEO of Phoenix Children’s, said in a news release. “Phoenix Children’s has a duty to our growing community to ensure payer agreements address the often-complex medical needs of kids and support the exceptional care we provide as Arizona’s only pediatric health system. We are proud to reach such an agreement with Aetna and to remain an in-network health system for Aetna members.”

The end of the previous contract left a number of families in a panic, as Phoenix Children’s was no longer in-network. In August, Arizona’s Family spoke with Rachelle, the mom of a four-year-old boy who was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. She scrambled to push back appointments while looking for new doctors as the two organizations continued to negotiate a new deal. “It’s been very stressful. It’s been very emotionally tolling,” Rachelle said at the time.

Parents tell Arizona’s Family they remain panicked and confused about what to do about their child’s care.

The new multi-year agreement between Phoenix Children’s and Aetna Insurance is giving families a sense of security they say they’ve been lacking since the initial contract expired in August. It’s a huge weight off the shoulders of many parents Arizona’s Family has been speaking with the last couple of months who say they’ve felt frustrated about the back and forth surrounding these negotiations. “It all worked out, but we were panicking,” said Rachelle. “I lost a lot of sleep. There were a lot of big conversations at our house.”

She said it was a tough time for her family to figure out the best treatment plan for her son amid the uncertainty. She’s grateful it’s finally over. “You’re just waiting on hold for so long, and I mean two months that’s, it was over 60 days. That’s a really long time to just be kept waiting,” said Rachelle. “I am very happy for all of the children and families this is going to impact. So happy because it shouldn’t have lasted this long,” she said.

But Rachelle said she didn’t have time to wait for the two organizations to reach an agreement. So, she found alternative insurance where she could keep her son with his Phoenix Children’s doctors. “As a parent, I would do anything for my son to know that he’s safe and that he’s taken care of,” she said.

A couple of viewers reached out to Arizona’s Family after the first story with Rachelle aired, asking how they could help with Carson’s medical expenses while they were still in limbo. Rachelle said one of them paid a couple of their bills, and she was blown away by the generosity. “We are very happy. It took two months too long, but we’re very happy that they finally met a deal,” said Rachelle.

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