Minnesota fines UnitedHealthcare over alleged mental health parity issues

UnitedHealthcare will pay Minnesota $450,000 to settle allegations it violated mental health parity laws. 

Minnesota's commerce department alleged the insurer evaluated mental health and substance use claims more stringent than medical claims, according to a May 14 news release from the department. 

Minnesota officials also alleged UnitedHealthcare did not demonstrate comparable reimbursement rates between medical and mental health providers for certain billing codes, did not post accurate prior authorization data on its website and applied more stringent restrictions to some mental health drugs. 

According to a consent order, the ruling covers UnitedHealthcare and PreferredOne Insurance Co., a subsidiary UnitedHealth acquired in 2021. The settlement included no admission of fault. 

UnitedHealthcare will pay $350,000 of the fine up front. The remaining $100,000 will not have to be paid if the company implements a corrective action plan to address the issues identified by the state, according to the consent order. 

In a statement shared with Becker's, a UnitedHealthcare spokesperson said the insurer is "committed to ensuring our members have access to the behavioral health services that meet their needs." 

"We will continue working with state officials to address the issues they identified and remain dedicated to collaborating with people in Minnesota to deliver high quality, affordable healthcare," the spokesperson said. "UnitedHealthcare has made significant progress in the past few years to expand our behavioral health network, including growth in Minnesota of 60% since 2019 to almost 13,000 behavioral health providers statewide, and over 390,000 nationwide." 

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