“The unnecessary use of the emergency room costs nearly $ 32 billion annually, which increases healthcare costs for everyone,” the company said in a statement Monday. “We are taking steps to make care more affordable, and encourage people who do not have health care emergencies to seek treatment in a more appropriate environment, such as an urgent care center. If one of our members in an emergency takes care of a non-essential issue, such as a pink eye, we compensate the emergency according to the member’s benefit plan. ”
During the pandemic and for months of confinement, non-Covid care fell, ranging from knee surgeries to mammograms to emergency visits. Insurers, including UnitedHealth Group, the parent company, have reported strong gains throughout the crisis. Some experts were concerned about the delays in care that would aggravate the condition of patients, but others argued that the decline could provide evidence of unnecessary care such as examinations.
Some critics saw United’s initial decision as a message to hospitals.
“They see it as a way to gain the upper hand in their ongoing battle with suppliers,” said Jonathan Kolstad, a health economist at the University of California, Berkeley.
This was the latest example of insurance clashing with doctors and hospitals, said Michael R. Turpin, a former United States chief executive, now an executive vice president at USI, an insurance brokerage that helps businesses get coverage to find, said. Recently, United’s conspiracy with anesthetists has led to lawsuits by a large, doctor – owned practice, backed by private equity investors, and hospitals complain that United have adopted other policies that make it difficult for patients to take care of them. gain.
Some consumers are already struggling with insurers and some providers over billing for Covid vaccines, prompting the federal government to remind participants that it is illegal to charge patients for these costs.
There is also increasing evidence that some of the people who did not go to emergency rooms during the pandemic would have looked for it better. A recent study on health issues by researchers from the MIT Sloan School of Management, who worked with Boston Emergency Medical Services, found evidence of an increase in heart attacks that occurred in the hospital, especially in low-income neighborhoods.
The people who delay the failure are, according to the population, already the most vulnerable a study by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, who studied the composition of individuals who said they delayed care. “Avoidance of urgent or emergency care was more common among unpaid adult caregivers, persons with underlying medical conditions, black adults, Hispanic adults, young adults, and persons with disabilities,” the researchers wrote.