Psychiatric Association Alleges UnitedHealth Discriminates

StethoscopeThe New York State Psychiatric Association — a division of the American Psychiatric Association — has seen complaints alleging that UnitedHealth’s (NYSE:UNH) policies eliminate, reduce, and discourage mental healthcare stream in. As the health insurer has allegedly not provided the treatments that both the state and the federal government requires, the association and a group of consumers brought a lawsuit against the company in federal court in Manhattan on Monday.

UnitedHealth, the second-largest health insurance provider in the United States, has instituted “unjustifiably stringent medical-necessity criteria and pre-authorization requirements for mental-health services,” the plaintiffs said in their complaint, seen by Bloomberg.

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The 102-page document outlined how the company denied or limited access to mental-health treatments for patients suffering from conditions ranging from chronic depression to anxiety disorders to psychosis. This practice is a violation of numerous laws that require parity from health insurers, including the federal Mental Health Parity Act, the Affordable Care Act, and New York state laws.

As its name suggests, the Mental Health Parity Act, signed into legislation in 1996, was written to prevent insurance companies from putting such restrictions in place; it requires that the annual or lifetime dollar limits on mental health benefits be no lower than the limits on medical and surgical benefits offered by health insurance providers…

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