Physicians in a class-action lawsuit against UnitedHealth Group over payments for out-of-network services could soon start receiving some $200 million in settlement payments.
Judge clears payments to docs in UnitedHealth settlement
U.S. District Judge Lawrence McKenna in New York approved distribution of the awards, according to a news release from the American Medical Association.
The money comes from a total settlement of more than $350 million between UnitedHealth and the AMA and other plaintiffs. That settlement was preceded by a deal between United Health and New York's then-Attorney General Andrew Coumo (PDF).
The AMA and others alleged that UnitedHealth subsidiary Ingenix used flawed data to justify reimbursing physicians for out-of-network services at rates lower than what physicians were billing, and patients were left responsible for the balance. UnitedHealth admitted no wrongdoing in the 2009 settlement. The settlement with Cuomo's office included an agreement to terminate the use of the Ingenix databases.
The settlement also led to the development of not-for-profit company FAIR Health—FAIR is an acronym for "Fair and Independent Research"—which publicly reports out-of-network service rates. UnitedHealth Group agreed to pay $50 million toward the creation of the FAIR Health database and to discontinue its physician billing information databases.
"The truly lasting legacy of this court challenge will continue long after the last physician has received a share of the landmark settlement," AMA President Dr. Peter Carmel in the release. A UnitedHealth spokesperson was not available for comment at deadline.
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