UnitedHealthcare apologizes to Amana clinic after wrongly mailing letter

Published: May. 4, 2021 at 7:34 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - UnitedHealthcare apologized to a health clinic in Amana, after mistakingly telling patients it would no longer accept patients with certain insurance.

The Amana Family Practice Clinic thought it signed up to continue taking patients on UnitedHealthcare back in December 2020. Its office manager received a welcome letter from the insurer, along with a copy of the contract on April 13. But, two days later, UnitedHealthcare mailed a letter to its medicare advantage members wrongly telling patients the Amana Family Practice Clinic would no longer accept their insurance.

The company said the error came during the process of putting the contract into their system. UnitedHealthcare said the team responsible for loading provider contracts in our system detected and corrected this error on April 14. But, the letter notifying people about the clinic no longer being on the network was dated April 15.

Email correspondence between the clinic and UnitedHealthcare, which was shared with our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Team, originally blamed the mistake on two different billing addresses.

Besty Momany, who helps run the clinic, said the mistake has taken a lot of time away from staff members doing other jobs. She said the clinic has spent thousands of dollars trying to mail out their own letters telling patients about the mistake.

“We believe we lost at least $2,500 in staff time and expenses and that’s not the patients we may have lost,” Momany said. “We may not know that for months.”

Sarah Bearce, who is a spokeswoman for UnitedHealthCare, apologized for the mistake. She said the company will send out its new letters to its members about the mistake as well.

“Amana Family Practice will remain in the UnitedHealthcare network, including for our Medicare Advantage members,” Bearce said. “We are sending letters to our members to reassure them that they will continue to have access to Amana physicians. We apologize to Amana and our members for any frustration or confusion they’ve experienced.”

The company said those letters will be received later in May. But, the Amana Family Practice Clinic said it has spent money mailing out its own letters to all of its’ patients about the mistake. The clinic also filed a complaint with the Iowa Insurance Division, which is the state agency that regulates insurance companies in Iowa.

Momany said the most frustrating part has been the lack of communication from the health insurer about the mistake. She said they’ve spent hours going from different customer service lines and have had little communication with the company through emails.

“No one will ever talk to you,” Momany said. “We spent an hour getting sent from one, 1-(800) number to the next. And you can’t contact them. Nobody contacts you back.”

UnitedHealthcare disagrees with Momany on the lack of communication. It said it has worked swiftly to correct the error. However, Momany said she was not notified of any solution when TV9 talked with her on Tuesday morning.

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