United withdraws request for patient records in Connecticut

Physicians had received faxes from a UnitedHealth Group subsidiary, asking for patient diagnosis information.

By — Posted March 2, 2010

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

Health Net, UnitedHealth Group and United subsidiary Ingenix said they have suspended efforts to collect medical records for Medicare Advantage members in Connecticut after hearing responses of confusion and skepticism from physicians.

United spokesman Daryl Richard said the records requests were part of reviews intended to "ensure the accuracy of patient diagnosis information" submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services by the companies' Medicare Advantage plans.

Matthew Katz, executive vice president at the Connecticut State Medical Society, said United, which recently acquired renewal rights to Health Net's membership in that state, had answered some but not all of physicians' questions about the records requests. In February the society asked the companies to explain the purpose of the requests, and the companies' authority to make them.

"We are still concerned that United and Health Net have initiated this kind of a broader chart review as a fishing expedition for other things they would come back and ask for later," Katz said.

The letters in question were faxed to physicians starting in December 2009 from Ingenix and contractor MediConnect. They asked physicians' offices to provide copies of medical charts for, in some cases, dozens of patients.

Health Net had hired Ingenix to collect records on its behalf before United acquired Health Net's membership, Richard said.

But because many were unfamiliar with either Ingenix or MediConnect's names, many physicians questioned the validity of the request, and ultimately, so did the CSMS.

United first responded by announcing it had suspended the chart reviews effective Feb. 5.

In a letter to the medical society sent Feb. 16, United and Health Net executives said both companies' physician contracts require doctors to comply with requests for medical charts.

Without apologizing, they said the company would work to improve the clarity of its communications with physicians and better explain the reasons for future chart requests, and also better explain the relationship between health plans and vendors they hire to do these reviews. United also gave a similar answer when CMS and Connecticut's Dept. of Insurance asked about the faxes.

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story