ASHEVILLE — Medical-equipment supplier Aeroflow will be out-of-network with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina starting next month after failing to strike a resolution with the insurance provider on a reimbursement issue.
Blue Cross NC told the Citizen Times this week Aeroflow leaves the network on Feb. 12. Unless a new agreement is reached, out-of-network rates will then apply for Blue Cross NC policyholders when they need medical equipment such as wheelchairs, CPAP machines or breast pumps from Aeroflow. That usually means policyholders will pay higher co-payments and face higher deductibles than they would if it were in-network.
Blue Cross NC declined further comment on the situation citing "potential litigation regarding disputed billing practices."
Aeroflow, which is based in Asheville, said in a statement the company has been working for months with BCBSNC "to resolve some insurance reimbursement issues," but "unfortunately to date, a resolution has not been reached."
"We are currently focused on minimizing the impact this has on the patients and customers who have come to depend on our nationally recognized quality of service," the company said in an email late Monday.
A company spokesperson declined to share the volume of Aeroflow customers affected by the dispute. Aeroflow said last week 2017 was its best year to-date with 146 percent sales growth and 17 percent job growth. It also acquired a 35,000-square-foot building in Arden that allows it to create a centralized distribution center.
The company is a supplier of medical equipment and services ranging from power wheelchairs to back, knee, wrist and ankle braces to portable oxygen concentrators.
Blue Cross NC, on the other hand, is North Carolina’s largest insurance provider. Its network includes 96 percent of the state’s medical doctors and 99 percent of all general acute-care hospitals, including Mission Hospital, its website shows.
Mission rejoined the BCBSNC network in December, ending a dispute that began in July after it terminated a contract, saying negotiations over a new deal with Blue Cross had not yielded acceptable terms. The previous deal expired Oct. 5. Its expiration meant meant about 260,000 people in Western North Carolina who are insured with Blue Cross had a more than two-month period requiring them to pay out-of-network rates to receive care at Mission.