Feb 20, 2020 - Health

UnitedHealth terminates handful of Mednax contracts

Photo: Marijan Murat/picture alliance via Getty Images

UnitedHealth Group will be ending contracts with Mednax anesthesiologists, neonatologists and obstetricians in four states this year, affecting $70 million of revenue, Mednax said Thursday. Mednax and UnitedHealth did not immediately respond to questions.

Why it matters: If the two sides don't strike a new deal, Mednax doctors will be out-of-network for all people who have UnitedHealth insurance, regardless if those doctors work at in-network hospitals — putting patients at risk of receiving surprise medical bills from those Mednax doctors. Congress has not resolved surprise billing.

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Surprise billing may be about to get worse

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

The problem of surprise medical billing — which Congress failed to solve last year — is about to get worse, thanks to a feud between an insurance giant and a company that employs thousands of doctors.

The big picture Parents who have babies in intensive care, women with high-risk pregnancies and people who need anesthesia could receive unexpected bills in the mail as a result of the fight between Mednax, the physician-staffing firm, and UnitedHealth Group.

Go deeperArrowFeb 21, 2020 - Health

Health care stocks surge after Biden's Super Tuesday wins

Data: Money.net; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Health care stocks soared Wednesday, led by double-digit percentage gains from major health insurers Anthem, Centene, Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth Group.

The big picture: Nothing has changed with the health care industry, which is still printing money. But Joe Biden's Super Tuesday victories reassured Wall Street of his chances of beating Bernie Sanders and "Medicare for All” — and that a Biden presidency or a Trump re-election will keep the lucrative status quo in place.

The U.S. health care system is short staffed

Data: OECD GDP, OECD doctors,  The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Despite being the world's largest economy and having a private health care system that politicians routinely call "the best in the world," the U.S. lags badly among industrialized countries in terms of the number of doctors.

The state of play: The U.S. is 25th in the number of doctors among OECD countries and has the third-lowest number of doctors among countries that have 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Go deeperArrowMar 20, 2020 - Health