Jun 12, 2021 - Economy & Business

Insurer punts controversial ER policy

UnitedHealthCare

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

UnitedHealthcare is postponing a new policy that would have declined or limited coverage of an emergency room visit if it was found to be non-emergent after the fact, Axios' Bob Herman reports.

The big picture: Patients, doctors and hospitals slammed the policy, arguing it violated federal law that requires all emergency care to be covered as long as a "prudent layperson" believes it was an emergency.

Between the lines: The coronavirus pandemic already led to large reductions in patients seeking ER care, leaving experts to wonder why the nation's largest health insurer now wanted to initiate a change that would force patients to diagnose themselves and self-ration care.

  • Anthem tried an almost identical policy back in 2018 and is facing a lawsuit from emergency physicians over that policy.
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