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UnitedHealth cuts thousands of physicians from network


Physicians’ relationships with insurance companies are becoming even more strained during Affordable Care Act (ACA) implementation. UnitedHealth Group is one of the first insurance companies to drop thousands of physicians from their network, according to the Wall Street Journal.

UnitedHealth, one of the top healthcare insurance companies in the country, is cutting at least 15% of physicians from its network in 10 states due to “significant changes and pressures in the healthcare industry” by the end of 2014, according to the Journal. Most of the cuts target physicians in the Medicare Advantage Program. UnitedHealth chief executive officer Jack Larsen bought full-page newspaper ads across the country explaining the company's decision, which disrupts thousands of patients, who may have to scramble to find new physicians in the next few months.

“We are working to collaborate with a more focused network of physicians to help us provide higher quality and more affordable healthcare coverage to meet the needs of our members, and help them get more from their health plan benefits,” Larsen said to the New York Post. “This work has become even more urgent in light of the severe funding reductions for Medicare Advantage plans that have come from Washington.”

Forbes.com is reporting that UnitedHealth is the first of many insurance companies that will be making cuts to their networks in the upcoming years as Medicare reimbursements continue to shrink and physicians are unwilling to take pay cuts. Aetna is also reported as warning of a massive decrease in its physician network due to shrinking Medicare reimbursements.

Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, says that the instability in the healthcare insurance industry now affects everyone involved. “Changing the rules after health plans have already met the requirements of the law could destabilize the market and result in higher premiums for consumers," Ignagni said in a press release. "Premiums have already been set for next year based on an assumption of when consumers will be transitioning to the new marketplace. If due to these changes fewer younger and healthier people choose to purchase coverage in the exchange, premiums will increase in the marketplace and there will be fewer choices for consumers."

Are these cuts the product of another broken promise made by President Barack Obama concerning the ACA? Obama promised that people who liked their doctor would be able to keep their doctor. But ultimately that will depend on whether their doctor is still available in their healthcare insurance network.

From 7 million to 12 million people have lost their original coverage from their insurance companies due to ACA regulations, according to ABC News.

Medical societies filed a restraining order against UnitedHealthcare, and the AMA is calling for major changes following mass cancellations of physicians in Medicare Advantage Plans in at least 11 states.

The healthcare system has the resources to meet much of the demand for primary care services, but tapping into those resources will require structural changes.

A new report suggests that children as young as middle school-aged are smoking e-cigarettes and hookah, which are often believed to be safer alternatives to regular cigarettes.

President Barack Obama is aiming to fix a broken promise made during the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA): that people can keep their existing health insurance, if they like it, under healthcare reform. Thursday Obama announced that health insurance companies can delay upgrades to existing plans to meet the requirements of the ACA until 2014.


Anonymous
Why haven't physicians resigned from these insurance companies that decrease their take home pay every year since the 1990's? The ACA has made it necessary for physicians to take bold moves for self preservation, or we will have no doctors at all. Ex doctors will go into investment banking and administration of insurance companies instead of patient care. No other profession would put up with this..would plumbers go to work for 15 % fee of their billed fee? No. We now have primary care doctors working for $85/ hour. I pay ,my computer consultant more than that. Lawyers make $150-800 dollars and hour. What is wrong with us doctors?
Nov 25, 2013
Dr. EE Saltzberg MD
First of all I am in a salary based position, and I am happy with it. I don't understand WHY would our government allow a 3rd party to get in the way of health care, and take 30% of the profit out of where it should be. BEING PUT BACK INTO THE HEALTH CARE DELIVERY SYSTEM!! Medicare is not perfect, but is a better approach than having an insurance company paying their CEOs 10 million dollars a year to figure out how to NOT pay the hospitals and the docs!!
Nov 23, 2013
Anonymous
2 words: single payer. We must outlaw this kind of profiteering on people's misery.
Nov 22, 2013
Anonymous
2 words: free markets. Single payer is ObamaCare on steroids. What makes you think that more regulation and less choice will improve matters? The only thing the government does well is give away money. Ask a Canadian who has been waiting a year for a hip replacement how he likes single payer.
Nov 22, 2013
Anonymous
The ins companies agreed to work with Obama when he was forming the structure of the ACA. Now we see the ins companies have taken this opportunity to churn the marketplace and raise premiums on everyone and blame it one the ACA, when they agreed to reasonable fees. I went on the website with another person and the fees for a 63 yo woman for one year are over 18000 for premiums- about 1500 a month. That is what you would have to pay for a private individual policy today if you could pass the health test- the new screening is a detailed history. The govt is set to subsidize those with low incomes who cannot afford the premiums. So lets see- if the govt subsidizes 12000 of the 18000, the ins companies win like the drug makers won in Medicare part D- get lots of money from the govt legally. If the GOP would have worked with the Dems we could have had a single payer and gotten rid of all these insurance company parasites and millions of dollars a year CEOs. Nationalized health care works in many other countries because a lot, most of, the profit has been removed from the system. In the US it is all about everyone making a profit on the sickness of people. Until all the medical system is salaried we cannot do as well for all the people, only the ones who have money or insurance.
Nov 21, 2013
Anonymous
As was warned:Compulsory health insurance is no guarantee of health care. Insurance is not the same as delivery of appropriate care. The Tea party told you so!
Nov 21, 2013
Anonymous
This is the same company that in 2009 agreed to a settlement of $350 million in a lawsuit by the AMA/MSSNY for improper reimbursements to physicians. I terminated my contract with them about 7 years ago and the air has smelled fresher in my office. I wonder why physicians continue to contract with payers who threaten our practices and livelihoods.
Nov 21, 2013
Anonymous
"Thousands of physicians cut from networks"- this is a major disaster for patients and physicians, and ObamaCare hasn't even gone into effect yet. In January, we will see the full extent of the folly of the ACA. "Those who don't know history are condemned to repeat it". History has demonstrated in every instance that central planning by government bureaucrats leads to calamity. Forced collectivization of healthcare in America will not be any more successful than forced collectivization of farms in the Ukraine in 1930. Let us hope that fewer lives are lost as a result.
Nov 21, 2013