UnitedHealth Group Incorporated is a managed health care company. According to its company literature, UnitedHealth Group is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to making health care work better. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through seven operating businesses: UnitedHealthcare, Ovations, AmeriChoice, Uniprise, OptumHealth, Ingenix, and Prescription Solutions. Through its family of businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves approximately 70 million individuals nationwide. In 2004 the company posted a gross profit of $10.2 billion (Lexis Nexis Online - Company Financial Reports).
United Health Group It is the parent of UnitedHealthcare, one of the largest health insurers in the U.S. It was created in 1977, as UnitedHealthCare Corporation (it renamed itself in 1998), but traces its origin to a firm it acquired in 1977, Charter Med Incorporated, which was founded in 1974. In 1979, it introduced the first network-based health plan for seniors. In 1984, it became a publicly traded company.
In March 2007, United Health Group signed a definitive agreement to acquire Sierra Health Services Inc. for $2.6 billion. Sierra provided health benefits and services to 310,000 members in Nevada and another 320,000 people in senior and government programs throughout the United States.
To contrast with that, however, in a recent non-insurance industry survey of health care executives who have dealt with the company, United received a 91% unfavorable rating - the worst ranking among all listed.
In June 2006, the American Chiropractic Association filed a national class action lawsuit against the American Chiropractic Network (ACN), which is owned by UHC and administers chiropractic benefits, and against United Healthcare itself, for alleged practices in violation of the federal RICO act.
Ingenix, a subsidiary of United Health Care, is the industry leader in quantifying reasonable and customary rates for medical services. Health insurance companies pay Ingenix to gain access to these rate determinations. As most health insurance plans contain an exclusion for coverage of services that exceed the reasonable and customary rate, this valuation is a legitimate way for insurance companies to deny coverage.
In February 2008, New York State Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he was conducting an industry-wide investigation into a scheme by health insurers to defraud consumers by manipulating reasonable and customary rates. The announcement included a statement that Cuomo intended "to file suit against Ingenix, Inc, its parent UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), and three additional subsidiaries." Cuomo's investigation found that Ingenix databases used to quantify reasonable and customary rates were remarkably lower than the actual cost of typcial medical expenses. This inappropriately provides health insurance companies with basis to deny a portion of provider claims, thereby pushing costs down to members.
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