Health insurer UnitedHealth Group told investors that it lost 315,000 customers this year due to having ridiculously crappy customer service. In other news, the population of Pittsburgh, PA is only 312,819. Uh, whoops. [WSJ Health Blog]


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  1. timmus says:

    For that massive of a failure, all you have to do is connect your customer service numbers to Dhanvantari, Rajeev, and Jayaprada down in Bangalore and they’ll take care of the rest.

  2. DrGirlfriend says:

    @timmus: I work with insurance at a hospital. UHC was the very first health insurance company I ever dealt with that outsourced their customer service to India. That was not an easy transition.

    UHC is not popular with providers, and I guess not with patients, either.

  3. ptkdude says:

    I’m curious to know if UHC lost these customers because they suck and the customers went with a different insurance company, or if UHC denied so many claims 315,000 customers died due to a lack of medical care.

  4. mconfoy says:

    Since they bought Mamsi, they have completely destroyed it, so I am dropping them and moving to Empire Blue Cross. The are another horrible case of what is wrong with health care in the country. How a company this bad can continue to be in business shows that health care as it exists now is an example of failure in the free market. Its like letting the military be completely ran by competing companies. We see how well that works in Iraq. United Healthcare is the company that had the scumbad CEO doctor with the big golden parachute as his reward for wrecking shareholder value.

  5. iamme99 says:

    Doesn’t matter. They will just charge the remaining customers more $$$.

  6. torqueU says:

    I have UHC… no choice since the place I work uses them exclusively right now. Used to be Anthem 2 yrs ago. So far, no problems though I haven’t had to call them for anything, yet. My company this year is making all employees go with a HSA instead of hmo/ppo to save on costs. Their costs. They are coughing up 3k of the 4k deductible. I have to pay anything over 3k to the 4k limit, then everything else is covered by uhc.

  7. chemman says:

    I had UHC a few years back and can understand why they are losing so many customers. It took me 7 months of persistant calls to get them to pay a claim that they admitted they should pay, but kept trying to weasel out of because the doctor’s billing dept had a different address than the actual office, even though the bill clearly stated for procedure performed at the doctor’s actual office (they claimed the doctor was in their network at the office address but out of their network at the billing address)

  8. bohemian says:

    Just imagine how many more people would quit being customers of UHC if they had another choice. Most people have one option through their employer and employers look at their costs far before the quality of the coverage if they even bother to look at the quality of the plan.

    There is one thing worse than being stuck with something like UHC, being stuck with an insurance plan owned by the same monopoly that owns all the hospitals and clinics in the area.

  9. missdona says:

    I have UHC and haven’t had an issue. When I call my company-dedicated number, I get a North American based CSR. I wonder if my company is paying extra for that or if it’s going to change.

  10. SabrinaFaire says:

    I have UHC right now. Luckily, we do have a choice at my company. I haven’t had a problem with UHC paying for stuff, but they don’t have as many in-network doctors as Blue Cross Blue Shield. So I’m switching. I’m glad I have that option.

  11. Anonymously says:

    1.3 million people live in Pittsburgh’s home county, which is why the city wants to expand to include the county, ala Philadelphia.

  12. njtrout says:

    They’ve just realized that act now? What hole did they crawl out of? There service is the worst…just in time for my company to switch to United beginning January 1. Oh Lucky Me.

  13. Floobtronics says:

    We had UHC at my 2 previous jobs. They were our carrier when my wife gave birth to our youngest. There was a bill for $1500 from the hospital that they should have paid, but of course, didn’t. Flim-flam back and forth between “Oh yes, we should definitely pay that.” and letters telling me they’re not paying the claim. Mind you – it’s an in-network hospital with in-network doctors.

    In the end, they finally paid when I escalated and pointed out that if they did not pay, I would be forced to sue. Clearly, it would cost them more than $1500 to defend the suit, as I would be asserting my right to have the case tried by a jury – longer, and more drawn out, where they will likely lose in the end anyhow. Further, I’d be adding fees to the damages I’d be suing for.

    Funny thing happened. 3 days later, the claim got paid, in full.

  14. bohemian says:

    Our health insurer happens to have their main office in the same town I live in. They kept giving me the same run around on paying a couple of claims, kept saying they never got the paperwork from the doctor.
    They were a bit shocked when I showed up at their offices to hand deliver the claim forms from the doctors office. Ironically they quit “losing” every single one of my doctor submitted claim forms after that.

  15. GregC1968 says:

    I am a physician, and our practice stopped accepting UHC 4 years ago becuase of their dismal claims processing. It was routinely taking them 6-9 months to pay claims for services, and it took a lot of time, money and effort to get them to do that.

  16. casianoa says:

    My girlfriend is dealing with UHC right now. She started in June at a new company and the problems began from day one. To make a long story short, they never set up her account & no deductions were made from her pay. Her many calls to UHC provided little to no results. She was often told varying reasons for her lack of coverage. At one point they sent her four different health insurance cards with different member numbers. During this time she could not see the doctor, which she needed to do. Just this past week they finally gave her a corrected card but a whole new battle has surfaced. They claim she owes them all the payroll deductions from the past 6 months even though she had no coverage through them. One battle has ended and another seems to have begun.

    It’s a shame our country’s healthcare crisis is what it is. It’s also a shame people who should have coverage through providers like UHC don’t because their customer service is sorely lacking.

  17. casianoa says:

    To add to my earlier comment, I find it funny (not to mention highly inaccurate) that UHC’s main web page says “we make health care work better”. Perhaps they should take a giant step backwards and simply focus on making their health care ‘work’.

  18. goller321 says:

    I recently took out my own policy. It was between WPA and United. I went with WPA… After reading these posts, I’m sure glad I did.

  19. tadowguy says:

    I’ve had UHC for about 7 years now as a PPO. It may suck, but it sucks less than an Aetna or BC/BS HMO. I suppose insurance is like flying, it’s going to suck, and it’s going to be expensive, but you’ll do it anyway.

  20. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @missdona: Yes they are, I worked for a health ins. co. here in Ca. Companies had specific lines for just thier employees. It cost about 15-20% more than a regular plan. But they could enforce higher standards I.E. answer within x number of rings, 90% of all calls have to be resolved on the first call etc.

    When I got a call from a Boeing employee it would whisper Boeing right before the call connected. That way I knew which company to look for in our system, each company had little rules and exceptions.

  21. Nemesis_Enforcer says:

    @Nemesis_Enforcer: Oh I forgot if we didn’t meet the companies goals we had to pay them a fine. Imagine if we had to pay regular cutomers fines when we failed…

  22. vdragonmpc says:

    Oh no I submitted a post about these scumbags a long time ago….
    They were VERY expensive at my old employer and were very good at taking the money from my paycheck for coverage for my family.
    When my wife went for a treatment she has been going through for 5+ years they denied the visit. They claimed it was an ‘experimental procedure’… Well its the correct procedure for her condition and it works. What burned me up was they paid for the drug but not the injection…
    ***It gets better, as I was new to my job the office had thought we were still Anthem. They told me that if they had known it was United Healthcare we would have been charged at the door as they do NOT accept United healthcare accounts and will not even see people under their plan. How nice. BUT As the doctor had been seeing my wife for years and knew we were screwed he helped us and billed us as ‘uninsured’ and worked on the price.

    United Healthcare fought me for 2 years over those visits wanting me to fax medical records (denied) medical relevance documents and all kinds of other crap. I quit my job with that employer and they lost a key employee over the medical coverage. I simply cannot afford to pay for a healthplan that is no more than a gym membership you cant use because you dont have shorts. I even went the Executive carpet bomb route and was told by the lady ‘Sorry we choose to pay for what expenses we approve’. Medical needs do not matter.

    I told her they were FIRED and I would never work for a company that had that as a medical plan. My old job has to pay me as an outside contractor as I will not go payroll with them and lose my Anthem Coverage.

    They are crooks, scum, criminals and hateful as hell while being totally useless on the phone.