UHG Pledges to Keep Health Care Reform Provisions

An upcoming Supreme Court ruling could strike down the 2010 health care reform law—but UnitedHealth Group has pledged to continue to offer some of the law’s provisions regardless of the ruling.

Insurance giant UnitedHealth Group, Inc., said Monday that its UnitedHealthcare (UHC) business will continue to offer some provisions that were part of the 2010 health care reform law—even if the law is struck down through an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

For example, UHC will still cover preventive care like yearly check-ups, immunizations, and diabetes and blood pressure screenings without charging a co-payment. Such care is typically considered to help prevent bigger and costlier health issues later on.

UHC will also offer coverage to adult dependents up to age 26, regardless of whether they are eligible for other insurance, enrolled in school, on their parents’ tax returns, or married.

UHC additionally pledged not to impose lifetime dollar limits on the amount that an insurance policy pays out to cover claims—which is of particular benefit to people who have expensive, chronic illnesses.

The insurer also won’t pursue rescissions of individual coverage except in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of facts. Rescission refers to retroactive cancellation of a person’s coverage, sometimes after claims have been submitted; the company’s pledge doesn’t apply in cases when a person fails to submit timely payments of premiums.

The 2010 health care reform law was intended to provide coverage for millions of uninsured people. Parts of it began to be implemented two years ago, but a number of states and other groups have challenged the law, and the U.S. Supreme Court in March heard arguments about the law’s constitutionality.

Later this month, the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling that could strike down the whole law, strike down parts of it, or uphold it.

“The protections we are voluntarily extending are good for people’s health, promote broader access to quality care, and contribute to helping control rising health care costs,” UnitedHealth Group President and CEO Stephen Hemsley said in a statement. “These provisions make sense for the people we serve, and it is important to ensure they know these provisions will continue.”

The provisions that UHC will continue to offer apply to customers with individual policies—and those who are covered by their employer, although employers that fund their own insurance plans could opt not to offer some or all of the provisions to employees.

UHC’s pledge applies to elements of the health care reform law that are already in place. Some provisions won’t take effect for another couple of years.

However, the insurer didn’t vow to extend a current provision that requires the coverage of children with pre-existing conditions up to age 19. The company said that it “recognizes the value” of coverage to those individuals but added that “one company acting alone cannot take that step, so UHC is committed to working with all other participants in the health care system to sustain that coverage.”

UHC serves more than 38 million people. Parent company UnitedHealth Group is Minnesota’s largest public company based on revenue, which totaled $101.9 billion in 2011.