UnitedHealth Makes Medtronic Its Exclusive Insulin Pump Provider
UnitedHealth Group said on Tuesday that med-tech company Medtronic would become its preferred provider of insulin pumps, a decision that is expected to affect thousands of patients.
Until now, the Minntonka-based insurer has worked with insulin pump makers such as Tandem Diabetes Care.
News of the move upset Tandem CEO Kim Blickenstaff, as the decision could be costly to the San Diego-based company.
“Having diabetes isn’t a choice. How people manage it should be,” she said in a statement. “Insulin pumps are not a one-size fits all solution. Selecting which pump is the best fit for a person to manage their therapy needs should be a decision between a person and their healthcare provider.”
In response, UnitedHealth spokeswoman Kristen Hellmer told TCB the company would allow for exceptions to patients using Medtronic’s MiniMed insulin pump if clinical indications support the use of a different system. “These cases will be determined one-on-one with the prescribing physician and if approved would be covered at the in-network benefit level,” she added.
UHG’s Sierra Health, Medicare Advantage and Life Commercial members, along with all non-adult members, won’t be affected by the preferred relationship. Those groups will continue to receive coverage regardless of whether or not they move to Medtronic.
Hellmer said fewer than 15,000 UnitedHealth members nationwide currently use a non-Medtronic pump. Those members won't need to make the switch immediately—only at the time their insulin pump falls out of warranty and need to be replaced. Typically, insulin pumps last for four or more years.
“UnitedHealth and Medtronic are working together to better serve people with diabetes by combining their collective resources, data and expertise,” Hellmer said. “We aspire to bring a value-based approach to diabetes care that tracks clinical outcomes for UnitedHealth members on insulin pumps and places greater focus on quality rather than the volume of care delivered.”