UnitedHealth Puts ER Coverage Policy on Ice After Backlash

UnitedHealthcare — which recently followed in the footsteps of Anthem, Inc. by rolling out a policy that would retroactively deny certain emergency room visit claims — is now planning to hold off on implementing the change after facing fierce blowback from provider groups. Health care policy experts, meanwhile, have mixed opinions about whether the policy was wise to implement in the first place during an ongoing pandemic.

“How anyone at United thought this was a good idea is a mystery for the ages,” says Joe Paduda, principal of Health Strategy Associates LLC. “The correct reaction would be for the company to ask why it handled this so poorly.”

But Ari Gottlieb, a principal with the health care consulting firm A2 Strategy Group, suggests that UnitedHealth could have made the new policy work. “I’m struck by the pre-emptive outrage at a policy that depending on how implemented, may have been quite limited in scope and impact and generally appeared to be aligned with lowering healthcare costs,” he tells AIS Health, a division of MMIT.

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Leslie Small

Leslie Small

Leslie has been reporting and editing in various journalism roles for nearly a decade. Most recently, she was the senior editor of FierceHealthPayer, an e-newsletter covering the health insurance industry. A graduate of Penn State University, she previously served in editing roles at newspapers in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Colorado.

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