OSF-Blue Cross Battle Affecting Rural Areas - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

OSF-Blue Cross Battle Affecting Rural Areas

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PONTIAC, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and OSF hospitals are in a contract battle.

Blue Cross members would not be able to use nine OSF hospitals as their in-network facility after this year.

This break is especially inconvenient and potentially life-threatening for people living in small towns and rural areas.

Sam Lambert lives in rural Livingston County and uses OSF St. James Medical Center in Pontiac.

He wants to look for new insurance but his diabetes complicates things.

"I've got high-blood pressure so i'm pretty much uninsurable so you try to keep what you got," said Lambert 

OSF St. James is a major convenience for people living in and around Pontiac.

If they can't go there they'll have to go 36 miles to Normal or 68 miles to Peoria.

For some that is just too far.

Pontiac resident Judy Hynes has a life-threatening allergy to eggs and nuts.

"I'll have to get in an ambulance and get oxygen and get to the hospital in 20 minutes," said Hynes.

A lot of people at Edinger's Filling Station in downtown Pontiac talked about the battle with Blue Cross over lunch.

"I just talked to my cousin and she's all upset and I just had lunch with somebody and I said they'll settle it, it'll be ok," said Hynes.

Luckily for Judy and Sam, OSF and Blue Cross say they're open to continuing negotiations.

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