Covered California director: UnitedHealth is 'driving me bonkers'

Numerous health insurers have recently outlined concerns about the Affordable Care Act exchanges. But the executive director of California's marketplace said UnitedHealth Group should take responsibility and stop assigning blame to the federal law, according to NPR.

"Instead of saying, 'We screwed up,' they said, 'Obamacare is the problem and we may not play anymore,'" said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, the state's health benefit exchange. "It was giving an excuse to Wall Street and throwing the Affordable Care Act under the bus."

ACA exchange problems are nothing new for UnitedHealth. In November, the insurer threatened to leave the exchanges due to financial losses. Mr. Lee, a former official in the Obama administration, said UnitedHealth only has itself to blame for its $475 million loss on individual policies in 2015, according to the report. For 2016, the insurer estimated a loss of $500 million on individual policies.

UnitedHealth only recently joined Covered California, as Mr. Lee welcomed the insurer into the marketplace for 2016.

However, now UnitedHealth is "driving me bonkers," Mr. Lee said, according to the report. It has "fed this political frenzy that Obamacare doesn't work. It's total spin and unanchored in reality."

Time will tell whether the insurer will return to Covered California for 2017, and both sides will be analyzing the decision. "United will be looking at what their prospects are in California," Mr. Lee said. "We will be looking at United as a plan to see if they offer good value for Californians. It's going to be determined on both ends."

More articles on payer issues:
Is CMS Google's next takeover target?
Future structure of Humana is 'still to be defined'
Aetna expresses 'serious concerns' over ACA exchanges 

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