UnitedHealth fights lawsuit accusing insurer of underpaying mental health services

UnitedHealth Group filed a motion to dismiss a class-action lawsuit claiming the health insurer unlawfully underpaid reimbursements for mental healthcare, according to The Recorder.

Here are four things to know:

1. The class-action lawsuit filed against UnitedHealth's insurance and behavioral health businesses accuses the companies of underpaying certain psychotherapy services provided by master's-level counselors and psychologists, but not physicians.

2. In its motion to dismiss the lawsuit, UnitedHealth said the allegations go against "the common sense practice that health plans reimburse healthcare providers with different training, experience, and licensure at different rates. Contrary to plaintiff's suggestion, it is not unlawful for [UnitedHealth defendants] to pay a social worker less than a licensed physician would be paid for the same service," according to the filing, which was obtained by The Recorder.

3. The original lawsuit also accused UnitedHealth of violating the ACA, which doesn't allow discriminatory coverage for psychologists and master's-level counselors who act within the limits of their state licenses, according to The Recorder. However, in its motion for dismissal, UnitedHealth argued that the allegation lacked standing to sue under the ACA.

4. On Dec. 11, U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. granted the parties' request to extend briefing deadlines in the case. A hearing is set for March 21 to review UnitedHealth's motion to dismiss the lawsuit, according to The Recorder.

To access the full report, click here.

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