UnitedHealth rejects some demands in mental health coverage lawsuit

The UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group's campus in Minnetonka is seen in October 2012. UnitedHealth Group is rejecting some plaintiffs demands in a class action lawsuit after a judge agreed the company has been too stingy in its coverage of mental health care.
Jim Mone | AP 2012

UnitedHealth Group is rejecting some demands of the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of being too stingy in its coverage of mental health care.

Earlier this year, a judge in California ruled in favor of the patients who filed a class-action lawsuit, saying the company put profits over patients.

The plaintiffs had asked for the company to adopt new guidelines for how it covers behavioral health and to use them to reevaluate all of the claims it denied between 2011 and 2017.

In the company's legal response, UnitedHealth said it's already adopted new standards for how it covers substance use disorders and that new coverage guidelines for mental health care will go into effect in 2020. But the company is fighting the retroactive claims review.

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"We simply believe that in this case, the law simply doesn't allow for some of the proposed remedies and that none of those proposed remedies were adequately presented at the trial," said UnitedHealth spokesperson Matt Wigging.

The plaintiffs' legal reply is due in July.

In a statement, attorneys for the plaintiffs said they are pleased that the company is adopting new guidelines, but that it's not enough.

"[We] believe that Judge [Joseph C.] Spero's decision highlights the need for important additional remedies to protect the rights of United's insureds. We have proposed remedies to the court that, in our view, are entirely appropriate," the statement reads. "We look forward to proceeding before Judge Spero as he considers what remedies should be adopted for the class members."

This reporting is part of Call to Mind, our MPR initiative to foster new conversations about mental health.