Insurance Carriers Drop Las Vegas Clinics Tied to Hepatitis Scare - 8 News NOW

Insurance Carriers Drop Las Vegas Clinics Tied to Hepatitis Scare

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Three of the state's top health insurance companies have suspended contracts with the Gastroenterology Center of Nevada because of unsafe medical practices. The 14 doctors affected represent more than a third of all gastrointestinal physicians in southern Nevada.

Anthem Blue Cross-Blue Shield, Cigna Health Care and Sierra Health Services dropped coverage of those 14 doctors early this month. It means valley patients will only have 28 doctors to choose from in Las Vegas.

When the Endoscopy Center several related clinics closed their doors last month, Dr. Julian Lopez began taking 15 to 20 new patients a day.

"I think that there are an ample number of well meaning, good intentioned physicians here in town serving the community, willing to take them on and provide good care to them," he said.

Health officials say the Gastroenterology Center of Nevada treated more than half of the area's patents who need some type of endoscopic procedure. According to Lopez, that was a big part of the problem.

"You're pretty much directed to the doctors that your insurance plan obligates you to. So that takes away pressure from doctors to do the best job possible," he said.

Lopez says insurance companies partnering with more doctors give patients more options by creating competition among physicians. That drives up the quality of care. But Dr. Frank Nemec says right now, insurance coverage isn't the first thing on patient's minds.

"I don't think they are so much concerned abut their previous doctor having their insurance dropped. I think their concern is their previous doctor is now been accused of these terrible things, spreading this virus and unsafe practices," he said.

Nemec says even though the 14 doctors related to the hepatitis scare are no longer insured, that doesn't have much of an impact on patients who already have new doctors.

Anthem, Cigna and Sierra Health have all been in touch with the affected patients. Some doctors have said the insurance companies have contacted them asking to accommodate patients affected by the crisis.

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