New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is going after UnitedHealth Group, accusing them of “rigging data” and systematically “under-reimbursing” their members for out-of-network expenses.
From the New York Attorney General’s office:
Under the United insurers’ health plans, members pay a higher premium for the right to use out-of-network doctors. In exchange, the insurers promise to cover up to 80% of either the doctor’s full bill or of the “reasonable and customary” rate depending upon which is cheaper.
The Attorney General’s investigation found that by distorting the “reasonable and customary” rate, the United insurers were able to keep their reimbursements artificially low and force patients to absorb a higher share of the costs.
“Getting insurance companies to keep their promises and cover medical costs can be hard enough as it is,” said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. “But when insurers like United create convoluted and dishonest systems for determining the rate of reimbursement, real people get stuck with excessive bills and are less likely to seek the care they need.”
Cuomo’s investigation also found a clear example of the scheme: United insurers knew most simple doctor visits cost $200, but claimed to their members the typical rate was only $77. The insurers then applied the contractual reimbursement rate of 80%, covering only $62 for a $200 bill, and leaving the patient to cover the $138 balance.
Cuomo’s notice of intent to sue names the following potential defendants: UnitedHealth Group and its subsidiaries, United HealthCare Insurance Company of New York, Inc., United Healthcare of New York, Inc., United Healthcare Services, Inc. and Ingenix.