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Is UHC slow-walking ACA applications?

UnitedHealth Group is one of the largest health insurance companies in the country. In fact, it's so big that its actual health-plan-selling division is just one of several UHG business groups. That division, UnitedHealthcare, has generated some headlines by announcing that it is losing money on Affordable Care Act plans, and that it may pull out of the ACA marketplace altogether.

So I found it very interesting when this story: "UnitedHealthcare puts up obstacles to sale of some Obamacare policies" appeared on the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel website a week or so ago. The lede of the story was pretty stark: "UnitedHealthcare apparently took steps to ensure that it did not sell too many health plans on the federal marketplace during the current open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act."

If that's so, it makes UHC look pretty bad: on the one hand, they complain that they're not selling enough policies, on the other hand, there's a suggestion that they're deliberately stalling on doing just that. And the defense given by the company in the article was hardly a point-by-point rebuttal.

On the other hand, it could be that stories UHC's slow and inefficient responses to new applicants is something that is not unique to that company. We've heard anecdotal stories of Minnesota health plans like HealthPartners and Medica also having problems with applications. And issues with the ACA websites, on both the federal and state level, have been legendary. So maybe it's just part of the "working out the bugs" process.

But when an insurance broker says, "They could not have made it any more clear that they did not want to be writing this business," it certainly gets your attention.


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