Chapel Hill, N.C. – Officials of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) said today that the health insurer's strong network of hospitals in western North Carolina was more than adequate to care for members affected by the decision of Park Ridge Hospital in Fletcher to stop participating in BCBSNC's networks.
Park Ridge has canceled its BCBSNC contracts, effective March 4, 2007. BCBSNC has six participating hospitals in its networks within a 35-mile radius of Park Ridge, including two larger hospital systems within 12 miles – Margaret R. Pardee Memorial Hospital in Hendersonville and Mission Hospitals in Asheville.
The hospital's decision came in the midst of negotiations over new reimbursement terms. BCBSNC increased the fees it pays to the hospital in May 2006 and offered an additional increase in hopes of keeping Park Ridge in BCBSNC networks. The rates that BCBSNC pays Park Ridge are comparable to those of other similar community hospitals in North Carolina.
"Our focus now is to ensure a smooth transition for those members who will be affected by Park Ridge's decision," said Milo Brunick, BCBSNC vice president of Network Management. "We appreciate the care the hospital has provided for our members. While we want to offer our members the widest possible choice of doctors and hospitals, there is a limit to what we reasonably can pay any hospital, given rapidly increasing health care costs."
Park Ridge's action means that in-network care for BCBSNC members at the hospital will be largely limited to emergency care once the contracts end. For non-emergency care, BCBSNC members should work with their physicians to assure that they have appropriate authorization before receiving care at Park Ridge. All services that Park Ridge offers should be available at network hospitals in the region.
The contract cancellation also includes the physicians of Park Ridge Medical Associates. However, BCBSNC retains more than 400 physicians in Henderson and Buncombe counties in the specialties represented by Park Ridge and has approximately 750 doctors overall in the area.
Members will be able to receive in-network benefits for a certain period of time in some circumstances at Park Ridge for acute, chronic or terminal conditions that require continuing care. However, BCBSNC must authorize any requests for continuing care treatment in advance.
The cancellation applies to all BCBSNC products, and includes State Health Plan members enrolled in the Blue OptionsSM PPO plans. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Federal Employee Program is also affected.
The following participating hospitals remain in the BCBSNC networks:
FacilityLocationDistance from Park Ridge Hospital
Margaret R. Pardee Memorial HospitalHendersonville6 miles
Mission HospitalsAsheville12 miles
Transylvania Community HospitalBrevard25 miles
St. Luke's HospitalColumbus25 miles
Haywood Regional Medical CenterClyde33 miles
Rutherford HospitalRutherfordton35 miles
The McDowell HospitalMarion38 miles
Spruce Pine Community HospitalSpruce Pine44 miles
Harris Regional Medical CenterSylva49 miles

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina:
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is a leader in delivering innovative health care products, services and information to more than 3.4 million members, including approximately 748,000 served on behalf of other Blue Plans. For 73 years, the company has served its customers by offering health insurance at a competitive price and has served the people of North Carolina through support of community organizations, programs and events that promote good health. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Access BCBSNC online at