[Welcome Industry Radar readers!]
Well, it must have seemed like a good idea at the time:
"Weeks before the deal was signed, UnitedHealthcare sent 176,000 letters to customers. Many of the letters incorrectly warned people that their doctors would be out of network."
At the time, UHC was in the midst of negotiations with super-sized health care provider OhioHealth. Since doc's like nothing more than to field calls from irate patients, the thinking must have been along the lines of "hey, let's rile up our customer-base, and point them at their own doctors and hospitals." It was probably considered to be a no-lose situation: "hey, we're just the poor ol' insurance company, looking to save our policyholders a few bucks. What y'all do with this information is strictly up to you."
Unfortunately (for UHC, at least), it didn't work out quite that way:
"The investigation was sparked by those complaints and media attention, as well as the fact that UnitedHealthcare is one of the health plans offered to state employees."
Gotta love that last: given that at least a few of their policyholders would almost have to be DOI employees, one would have thought that UHC might have been more, um, circumspect about the whole thing.
The issue will boil down to whether or not any laws or regulations were broken by this perhaps ill-advised venture; it calls to mind the Anthem vs Premier kerfluffle a couple of summers back. Regardless, "investigating" doesn't mean "found guilty." It may well be (and I suspect that it will be) that nothing will come of this.
We'll keep you posted.
[Hat Tip: IB reader Jeff Milne]