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UnitedHealth Group has dropped thousands of doctors

Reuters reports that UnitedHealth Group has dropped thousands of doctors from its networks in recent weeks. This move has confused many elderly patients who are not sure what they need to do to continue to see their own doctors.

According to UnitedHealth Group, this move was necessary due to the underfunding of Medicare Advantage plans for the elderly. Although the UnitedHealth Group had hoped to offset the losses by generating additional business through other entities, in October, UnitedHealth Group reported that this was not the case. Additionally, other cuts made by the government in the third quarter for Medicare Advantage services raised the amount that UnitedHealth Group had to spend on healthcare premiums on medical claims.

Doctors get notices in 10 states from UnitedHealth

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, doctors in at least ten states were given notice that they were no longer associated with certain UnitedHealth Group plans. According to report, the reason was due to "significant changes and pressures in the healthcare environment." Doctors can appeal the terminations within 30 days.

UnitedHealth, although not available for comment for this specific story, did comment that they are continually updating their insurance plans. They also hope that their Medicare Advantage network to be “85 percent to 90 percent of its current size by the end of 2014.”

UnitedHealth has attempted to stay in the market to provide insurance in approximately a dozen states. Their plans were available beginning October 1 of this year, although they did note that some of the plans could be cut in some markets because of cuts to government funding. Other companies such as Aetna Incorporated have also announced they may be unable to participate in Medicare Advantage plans. Empire Blue and Emblem Health are also cutting Medicare Advantage physicians loose.

The lampooned got it right about Medicare Advantage plans

Many on the right such as Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tried to bring this issue to the media’s attention last August when he said, “The chances are that soon [seniors] will open up the mail to the bad news that your Medicare Advantage . . . has been changed in a negative way for you because of Obamacare

No one seemed to believe him, but he knew what we should have known: Obamacare cut $717 billion from Medicare over 10 years and $154 billion of that would come from Medicare Advantage. What does this mean? Government payments to Medicare Advantage programs will decrease by 7% or 8% in 2014.

Unfortunately, cuts to the Medicare Advantage programs are just one more thing that the American public was not warned about. Add this to the number who are losing their insurance completely and the millions more who could lose coverage when the employee mandate is instituted and it is clear things have gone from bad to worse for millions of Americans who were duped by a Congress who couldn’t be bothered to read the bill.
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