AHA yesterday urged UnitedHealthcare to reverse its decision to retroactively deny coverage effective July 1 for emergency department claims the insurer deems non-emergent.

“Patients are not medical experts and should not be expected to self-diagnose during what they believe is a medical emergency,” AHA wrote. “Threatening patients with a financial penalty for making the wrong decision could have a chilling effect on seeking emergency care. This is dangerous for patients’ health at any time, but is particularly unsafe in the midst of a public health emergency.”

AHA also urged UHC to evaluate whether the insurer’s other policies that restrict enrollees’ coverage for a wide range of hospital outpatient department services may contribute to access challenges for patients

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