UNITEDHEALTH GROUP: Criticized For ‘Selling Patients Off’
Consumer advocate Jamie Court criticizes UnitedHealth Group's move to shift nearly one million of its California patients to Blue Shield of California in a San Diego Union-Tribune op-ed. Court, co-author of the book "Making A Killing: HMOs and the Threat to Your Health," is disturbed that United is moving members shortly after announcing that it would not longer require specialist referrals. "Patients who signed up with the company because of that promise and other marketing that promotes free access at the company to specialists will face an entirely different structure at Blue Shield," he writes, warning that such "bait-and-switches will become increasingly frequent if state regulators sanction UnitedHealth's patient sale. HMOs will be able to promise the moon, then simply sell off their patients to another company after the patients are in the door." He calls on the federal government to "step in to protect the integrity of insurance coverage" and asserts that "[t]his will be the first test of California's new Department of Managed Care." Court concludes, "Americans may yet have to rethink whether private corporations can be trusted with public health" (7/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.