State Regulators Must Step In And Stop Bait & Switch Deal
United Healthcare is expected to announce today that it is withdrawing from the commercial HMO market in California and turning more than 200,000 patients over to Blue Cross. The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) called upon California regulators at the new Department of Managed Care to scuttle the deal. Otherwise, United Healthcare patients will likely face daunting problems with the continuity of care and be the victims of a bait and switch — where one product is replaced with another.
United Healthcare signed patients up with the claim that its bureaucrats would no longer second guess its doctors. Blue Shield does not appear to have adopted such a policy.
“Giant HMOs should not be able to trade patients like they were trading in used cars,” said Jamie Court, advocacy director of FTCR. “California’s new Department of Managed Care must stop this bait and switch. HMOs should not be able to unilaterally void their contracts with patients. United Healthcare has aggressively advertised that it was unique because doctors are in control of care. Clearly United Healthcare’s promises will be broken if the company is allowed to push patients into Blue Sheild, which has different corporate policies. The state of California must draw the line against HMOs fleeing their contractual obligations to patients and negotiating with patient’s lives and their relationships to their doctors. This could be a very dangerous national phenomenon and have serious ramifications for the continuity of care of HMO patients.”