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How much is your life worth? Apparently about $450

Per an August 12 read, United is settling up for denying coverage to those with behavioral health issues. Great, but this could’ve been solved without imposing limits on people’s healthcare.

We’ve covered it before: UnitedHealthcare’s business practices often make mental healthcare harder to access—and it seems like New York State agrees.

We’re happy to report, per a recent Reuters article, that the U.S. Department of Labor is requiring that UnitedHealth Group pay a whopping $15.7 million (broken into $13.1 million in restitution and a $2.1 million fine) in settlements.

It’s nice to finally see some due diligence in these fines. Good. Great. But wouldn’t it have been easier to prevent United from denying this care in the first place? How many lives have been harmed in the process?

To crunch the numbers a bit, the settlement is for a total of $9M, per the article. According to New York Attorney General Letitia James, 20,000 New Yorkers will receive a piece of that sum. Per our calculations, if each of them were to receive reimbursement, it would equal roughly to $450 per person. Is that really what United thinks your mental health is worth? And in cases where lack of mental healthcare resulted in diminished quality of life, or worse, loss of life, $450 certainly feels like cold comfort.

At the end of the day, a better approach would be to just cover the services appropriately to begin with. It’s better for patients and it’s the law. States shouldn’t have to sue to make it happen.

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