UnitedHealth to pay $100,000 to settle LTC insurance allegations

UnitedHealth Group has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle claims that it pressured nursing homes into buying unwanted long-term care insurance products.

UnitedHealth allegedly forced nursing homes to purchase the company's institutional special needs plan in order to participate in its broader insurance network, according to a press release from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. That practice gave UnitedHealth an unfair advantage over its competitors in New York, including ArchCare and Healthfirst.

In addition to paying the fine, UnitedHealth may not require an SNF to participate in its special needs plan if it also wants to accept the company's commercial or Medicare Advantage plans. The settlement also bars UnitedHealth from giving lower reimbursement rates to facilities that decline to participate in the special needs plan.

“Our nation's elderly, and those that care for them, face tremendous financial pressures at this time,” Schneiderman said. “Free and fair competition among service providers is crucial to ensure that patients receive the highest levels of service at the lowest possible cost.”

UnitedHealth did not admit or deny any wrongdoing as part of the settlement.