Triangle health practice owed close to $200,000 following cyberattack on insurance giant

Diane Wilson Image
Friday, March 15, 2024
Triangle health practice owed close to $200,000 following cyberattack
Dr. Mary Affee is balancing patient care with the expansion of her practice as she waits to get paid.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Triangle small business owner is owed close to $200,000 after a cyberattack caused problems nationwide for pharmacies, hospital systems, and healthcare organizations.

Dr. Mary Affee Founder and Clinical Director of Horizon Integrated Wellness Group, said, "It's pretty significant when we think about dollar amount."

Affee provided documents that showed her practice, which provides mental health services in the Triangle is owed more than $188,000 for services it provided to patients since the cyberattack on a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, Change Healthcare.

We don't want to stop seeing patients, but it's becoming a challenge of sustaining where we are.
Dr. Mary Affee

"We depend on the payments from the insurance company, and we certainly don't want to burden our own patients with the responsibility as we have these contracts with the insurance companies," Affee said.

ABC11 showed you how the attack affected residents in Fayetteville from getting access to their prescriptions. That problem has since been fixed. Cape Fear Valley Health said its pharmacies have resumed insurance billing.

However, since the cyberattack, Change Healthcare still hasn't re-established its system to process medical claims filed such as those from Affee's business.

"We don't want to stop seeing patients, but it's becoming a challenge of sustaining where we are with our clinicians and our patients," Affee said.

This financial setback comes as Affee is trying to meet the growing needs of her patients with her practice in the middle of a big expansion to new offices in Cary and the opening of a new office in Holly Springs.

"Without the payments coming soon from Change Healthcare it creates stress. It is worrisome as a small business owner, for sure, and again, most of this is how will this impact what we're doing so we can continue to sustain but keep the growth going," Affee said.

As for when the system will be back up and running, UnitedHealth said its electronic prescribing system is fully functional. As for processing medical claims such as Affee's, the company said it hopes to begin testing and reestablish connectivity with the system starting next week.

Affee said it can't come soon enough as her practice will continue to see patients despite the money owed -- a number that only grows with each new day of seeing patients. The company is also offering a Temporary Funding Assistance Program to help providers bridge the gap in short-term cash flow.

The Department of Health and Human Services has launched an investigation into UnitedHealth Group following the cyberattack on its Change Healthcare unit.