Back in October, we shared a Bloomberg article about insurers violating the spirit of the The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. At the center of this story was a lawsuit against United Behavioral Health, which was found liable for breaching its fiduciary duty and unfairly denying mental health claims back in March of 2019. Fast forward to November of 2020, and a federal judge is now ordering United to reprocess 67,000 previously denied mental health claims. The judge has also ordered United to change how it handles behavior health claims and to provide training for its employees—and the court is ensuring that these orders are carried out by appointing a special master to oversee the whole process. In a press release issued after the decision, plaintiff’s attorney Caroline Reynolds is quoted as saying, “This relief can’t undo the pain United inflicted on thousands of adolescents and adults, but it will give them meaningful help and offer new hope for all who suffer from mental illness or addiction…This case should serve as a strong warning to all insurers that the courts are recognizing their discriminatory schemes and it’s time to clean up their act.” Meanwhile, United’s comment on the historic decision is that it’s “weighing its options,” including an appeal of the decision. This response is disappointing, but certainly not surprising, given the amount of money at stake and United’s history of prioritizing its profits over the people it is supposed to serve.
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