UnitedHealth Under the Gun

UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation's largest health insurers, is drawing fire from providers, patients, and regulators over slow payments, claim denials, and poor customer service. According to a Wall Street Journal report, these issues are causing some fallout, as employers switch insurance companies looking for a more user-friendly program.

“The tighter you squeeze, the less you have.”—Thomas Merton

UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation’s largest health insurers, is drawing fire from providers, patients, and regulators over slow payments, claim denials, and poor customer service. According to a Wall Street Journal report, these issues are causing some fallout, as employers switch insurance companies looking for a more user-friendly program.

One indicator of how fed up UnitedHealth’s members are getting is the University of Michigan’s Customer Satisfaction Index. UnitedHealth’s rating fell 4.4% to 65 on a 100-point scale, the lowest score among health insurers.

Hospital administrators seem to be especially unhappy with United Health, citing slow payment, claim denials, tightfisted reimbursement policies, and an unwillingness to hear claims appeals. In a recent survey of hospital executives, UnitedHealth got an unfavorable rating from an eye-opening 91% of respondents, compared to an average unfavorable rating of 41% among other health insurers. Almost two out of three of the hospital executives tabbed UnitedHealth as the most difficult company to negotiate with.

On the other hand, a recent survey of physicians in Texas reveals that doctors don’t like any of the major health insurers much, calling them “uniformly bad.” Between 65% and 70% of those surveyed said they had problems getting procedures approved, problems getting paid for medically necessary care, and problems getting paid on time and at their contracted rate.

$75 billionTotal revenue for the UnitedHealth Group in 2007.(Wall Street Journal, 2008)

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