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UnitedHealthcare Delays New Policy on Emergency Department Visits

After backlash from major hospital and doctor groups, company has put new policy about reimbursement for nonurgent care on hold

emergency xray sign

THURSDAY, June 10, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Under intense pressure, UnitedHealthcare says it will wait until the COVID-19 pandemic is over before implementing a new policy to stop paying for emergency department visits that it considers nonurgent.

It had announced a few days ago that the new policy would take effect next month, but faced significant backlash from several major hospital and doctor groups, The New York Times reported.

"Plain and simple, this is a very misguided policy that could have a chilling effect for people going to the emergency room," Rick Pollack, the chief executive of the American Hospital Association, said earlier this week.

In a letter to UnitedHealthcare's chief executive, he urged the giant insurer to reverse the new policy and said the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the risks of discouraging patients from seeking care.

"This is dangerous for patients' health at any time, but is particularly unsafe in the midst of a public health emergency," Pollack said, The Times reported.

"Based on feedback from our provider partners and discussions with medical societies, we have decided to delay the implementation of our emergency department policy until at least the end of the national public health emergency period," UnitedHealthcare said in a statement issued Thursday.

The New York Times Article

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