UnitedHealth Pledges To Keep Reform Provisions Even If Supreme Court Says It Doesn’t Have To

The Supreme Court may end up overturning some of the consumer-focused provisions in the Affordable Care Act, but UnitedHealth, the nation’s largest insurer, says even if that happens, it’ll stick to the changes.

Some of those provisions include providing certain preventive health care services without co-pays, coverage for children up to age 26 and eliminating lifetime benefit caps. UnitedHealth also said it won’t drop consumers if they get sick, reports Reuters.

However, it didn’t say whether it will provide coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions, ensure consumers aren’t discriminated against due to gender or health condition, or continue plans to follow the more rigorous Medical Loss Ratio rule requiring insurers spend at least 80% of premium dollars on actual medical care.

Our cousins at the Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, said that the announcement is a good sign, but doesn’t get to heart of the critical elements of consumer protection.

Said DeAnn Friedholm, director of health reform for Consumers Union:

“This is an encouraging first step in continuing consumer protections in healthcare and we hope that other insurers will move in this direction. However, this is a very small step. Key consumer protections like guaranteed coverage for pre-existing conditions and ensuring that people aren’t charged differently because of their gender or health condition are essential to providing quality, affordable healthcare. But the fact is that these important protections cannot be tackled by one insurer. This is why we need the level playing field that the healthcare law provides – to ensure that these protections are kept in place for everyone.”

The Supreme Court is expected to decide later this month if it will strike down portions of the 2010 law, or all of it.

UnitedHealth to keep reforms, whatever court decides [Reuters]

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  1. FatLynn says:

    Insurance company that wrote the healthcare law isn’t totally opposed to the healthcare law? Who knew?

  2. Cat says:

    See! The free market will fix healthcare! See, people will just switch to UnitedHealth, and…

    Wait, never mind.

    • Akuma Matata says:

      Not a free market. why is that so difficult to understand. Or did I miss the implied /s?

  3. Gambrinus says:

    The cynical part of me thinks that UnitedHealth is doing this because they started a project back in 2010 to implement these changes and don’t want to toss it out, so they put a good PR spin on it.

    Actually, as someone who has UnitedHealth as a provider, I’m pretty sure the non-cynical part of me thinks this too.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Spot on. They had to add many of these provisions to their group contracts and those can run for several years. They are simply putting a spin on something they would have to do anyway (at least until the contracts expired).

    • FatLynn says:

      I first thought that letting 21-26 year-olds stay on mom and dad’s policy is a moneymaker for them, as this age group requires little healthcare, and they get to collect the extra premiums. But then I remembered that it is prime baby-making time for the women, so maybe not?

      • u1itn0w2day says:

        Bingo, even with a baby unless there are complications I doubt a healthy child cost that much compared to a cancer patient.

        This is why health INSURANCE should not be equated with actual health care. The health insurance companies know this.

  4. jbandsma says:

    You know that it’s all going to shitcanned, don’t you?

  5. AllanG54 says:

    Insurance companies all cover pre-existing conditions as long as you’ve had continuous coverage. Personally I think it’s unfair to have a company pay for your illness if you take out the policy after getting sick. It’s like taking out collision insurance the day after your accident and expecting them to pay for the repair.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      The problem is that insurance isn’t being used for a catastrophic event it’s being used for general maintenance. Which is it?

    • Dr. Shrinker says:

      Right, because nobody’s lost a job in America in the last few years. We’ve all had continuous coverage, so this isn’t an issue.

      • Akuma Matata says:

        Which is because tax code has favored employer-purchased care over individually purchased care.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          You mean “because individual-purchased care is ten to twenty times more expensive than group-purchased care.”

    • nicless says:

      My wife has anxiety issues which need medication and doctor’s visits. She’s had these issues for all of her life, so it is a preexisting condition. Are you saying she shouldn’t be covered if we have to maybe not have the insurance she was born with?

    • Antigone says:

      That is only true of group policies. If you’ve had continuous group coverage, but you lose your job and try to buy an individual policy, they can still reject you for pre-existing conditions or refuse to cover your pre-existing conditions.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Except you usually don’t know you’re sick, or they use “pre-existing condition” to label something that happened twenty years ago. If I had a knee injury when I was 18, it would allow them to deny me coverage for a knee operation when I turned 80.

  6. HogwartsProfessor says:

    The thing about pre-existing conditions is that some of them are less expensive IF the maintenance care is covered. That will obviously be less payout than it would if there is a crisis. My thyroid pills only cost $4 for a month’s supply (thank God, since I don’t have insurance right now). Without them, I would get sick. And that I can’t afford to pay for.

  7. Geekybiker says:

    I figure this is at least partly driven by fear that if they roll back the changes something even worse will be pushed though and stick this time. Business will do whatever they need to remain unregulated. They’ll make it up in a thousand tiny cuts once attention is elsewhere.

  8. consumed says:

    For-profit health insurance companies need to be dismantled. What the country needs is a single-payer that will cover everybody, no exceptions.

    I would not mind one bit if United and Wellpoint all went out of business for good.

  9. grossmont says:

    This from the insurance company whose CEO made $150 million dollars in two years (2009 , 2010).

    http://money.msn.com/investing/latest.aspx?post=5323ba34-2f28-434c-8b46-ea6cefe73b1a

  10. incident_man says:

    A for-profit healthcare company NOT taking advantage of the opportunity to screw it’s customers? It’s obviously an error in judgement, or we’ve all been unknowingly transported to an alternate universe.

  11. Thorzdad says:

    FWIW, my Anthem policy added the ability to keep your kids on the policy until age 26 a couple of years before the ACA was enacted.