UnitedHealth drops thousands of doctors from insurance plans -WSJ

Reuters

Nov 15 (Reuters) - UnitedHealth Group droppedthousands of doctors from its networks in recent weeks, leavingmany elderly patients unsure whether they need to switch plansto continue seeing their doctors, the Wall Street Journalreported on Friday.

The insurer said in October that underfunding of MedicareAdvantage plans for the elderly could not be fully offset by thecompany's other healthcare business. The company also reportedspending more healthcare premiums on medical claims in the thirdquarter, due mainly to government cuts to payments for MedicareAdvantage services.

The Journal report said that doctors in at least 10 stateswere notified of being laid off the plans, some citing"significant changes and pressures in the healthcareenvironment." According to the notices, the terminations can beappealed within 30 days.

Tyler Mason, a UnitedHealth spokesperson, was notimmediately available for comment when reached by Reuters.

The insurer told the WSJ that its provider networks werealways changing and that it expected its Medicare Advantagenetwork to be 85 percent to 90 percent of its current size bythe end of 2014.

UnitedHealth is participating in about a dozen new stateinsurance markets that launched on Oct. 1 to offer subsidizedhealth coverage under President Barack Obama's healthcareoverhaul.

The insurer said previously it planned to withdraw from somemarkets in 2014 because of the government funding cuts.

Another top health insurer, Aetna Inc, also warnedin October that it expected slowing growth in 2014 in its Medicare Advantage plans.

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