If a contract between Aetna insurance company and RWJ Barnabas Health expires at the end of next month, it could mean patients would pay a lot more money out of their own pocket.

According to NJ.com the current contract will expire on April 22 and a letter from the insurer to its consumers said the hospital system is looking for "a significant rate increase," that "we do not believe can be supported in the market."

The NJ.com story also said similar letters were sent out during contract negotiations two years ago between Aetna and Barnabas before a new deal was signed. Since that time, Barnabas has merged with Robert Wood Johnson Health System to make it one of the largest hospital systems in the state.

On Barnabas' website, it said the contract termination would affect the system's 11 acute hospitals, as well as the three children's hospitals. The company says on the website, "while we cannot speak for Aetna, it is our goal and expectation that we will enter into a new agreement and continue to participate in the Aetna provider network."

Barnabas also called the letter sent to patients "a routine communication that must be sent to participants 30 days before the contract expires."

The company said patients with concerns about the termination can call 732-253-3180 or visit this website.

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Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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