Thousands of patients in the Middletown area were spared out-of-network hospital rates that would have started April 1 if Middlesex Hospital and UnitedHealthcare hadn't resolved a contract dispute.
The insurer and hospital said Saturday, the day the contract was to expire, that they had reached an agreement.
The previous contract for UnitedHealthcare's commercial accounts included about 6,000 of the insurer's members in employer-based health plans who have used Middlesex Hospital's services in the past 12 months. The dispute didn't include Medicare Advantage members.
Neither the hospital nor the insurer would talk about the nature of the dispute, though contract negotiations between hospitals and health insurers are often about reimbursement rates — the amount insurers pay for medical services.
As part of the contract dispute, about 190 doctors whose only admitting privileges are to Middlesex Hospital received letters dated March 9 from UnitedHealthcare. The letter tells doctors that if they don't change their affiliation to another hospital, "any care provided by you on and after July 1, 2012, will be treated as out of network."
"Reaching a mutually acceptable agreement with UnitedHealthcare was vitally important to Middlesex Hospital's ability to maintain the kind of care that has resulted in our being recognized as one of the top hospitals in the country," said Middlesex Hospital President and CEO, Vincent G. Capece, Jr.