Network Controversy
12:54 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Docs Claim United Healthcare Losing Medicare Members

Credit Gubcio / iStock / Thinkstock

United Healthcare has lost customers in its Medicare Advantage program, according to a physicians group that's locked in a court battle with the insurer. It has been the target of heavy criticism for its decision to drop 2,000 Connecticut doctors from its Medicare Advantage network. 

The insurer said the move was an attempt to streamline the plan, and make it work better and more affordably for customers. But it's being sued by two county medical associations which represent the affected doctors, who say the company was in breach of contract.

They claim the insurer's intent was to drive away sicker, higher cost patients by making it difficult for them to stay with their physicians. The Fairfield County Medical Association said an analysis of federal data shows that the company lost more than 8,000 customers from the plan between September and February. Their numbers come from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

If that's accurate, it means that United has lost its dominant position in the Medicare Advantage market, over rival Emblem Health.

United Healthcare said it won't comment on the company's competitive position in Connecticut. Doctors who have sued the company over their termination from the network have until early next month to take their case to arbitration, according to a recent court ruling.