Doctors say UnitedHealth Group Inc. is threatening to fine them over something they can’t control: patients’ behavior.Beginning March 1, UnitedHealth said it could fine a doctor $50 if a patient has tests done in facilities besides Laboratory Corp. of America or other labs that the company has selected. Doctors with patients who go out of network could also be subject to lower reimbursement and to exclusion from United’s network.
United knows the doctors have no choice. What are they gonna do? Not be a United provider?
Yeah right. They’ve become too big.
The American Medical Association said this is the first time a doctor could be financially punished for a patient’s behavior. AMA trustee Dr. James Rohack said doctors can refer patients to in-network labs but patients may choose to go elsewhere because of convenience or preference.
It’s not like a big health insurance company to be ruthless in the name of profit, is it?
Tyler Mason, a UnitedHealth spokesman, said the policy is not intended to punish doctors for patients’ choices but to remind doctors to refer patients to labs in the network. He said the insurer wouldn’t fine doctors if a patient defies their referrals and selects a non-network lab.
Is that written in their contract?
Rohack remains skeptical about UnitedHealth’s pledge to work with doctors to avoid fines and other financial penalties. He said the current policy is more about saving UnitedHealth money than providing the best coverage for patients.
“They (United) always say they are going to play nice in the sandbox,” Rohack said. “But if the stock price starts to get shaky, they don’t play nice anymore.”
No wonder the number of physicians in support of single-payer national health insurance is now over 14,000 strong.