Nation's Largest Healthcare Provider Cuts Thousands Of Doctors; Blames Government

Tyler Durden's picture

UnitedHealth, the nation's largest provider of privately managed Medicare Advantage plans, has dropped thousands of doctors from its networks in recent weeks citing "substantial funding pressure from the federal government." The WSJ reports that physician groups are protesting as many elderly patients are now unsure about whether they need to switch plans to keep seeing their doctors. Doctors in at least 10 states have received termination letters, some citing "significant changes and pressures in the health-care environment." UnitedHealth said its provider networks are always changing and that it expects its Medicare Advantage network "to be 85% to 90% of its current size by the end of 2014," due to the new health law (Obamacare). More job creation?



Via WSJ,



The company said it is managing its network, in part, to provide more value for members, particularly given Medicare's new five-star rating system that ties bonus payments for insurers to certain measures of cost and quality.


"That's what's driving our actions," said Austin Pittman, president of UnitedHealth's networks. He also said, "It's no secret that we are under substantial funding pressure from the federal government."




Medicare Advantage, an alternative to traditional Medicare, combines hospital and doctor coverage and often includes prescription drugs and perks like gym memberships. Enrollment has more than doubled since 2004 to 13 million in 2012, which represents about 27% of Americans on Medicare.


The federal government pays private insurers a per-capita fee to manage the benefits. The rate is currently about 12% more than the average Medicare patient spends annually. The Obama administration plans to cut those extra payments to insurers by about $150 billion over the next 10 years to help pay for the health law. Some experts expect enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans to decline sharply if that occurs.




UnitedHealth is the biggest player, with nearly three million members in Advantage plans, many of them sold under the AARP brand. The company says it had over 350,000 doctors in its Advantage provider networks.




"Instead of a scalpel, United is using a chain saw," said Michael Saffir, a rehabilitation specialist and president of the Connecticut State Medical Society, which estimates the insurer has cut 2,200 doctors across the state.




A spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said CMS is reviewing UnitedHealth's and other provider's networks "to ensure that beneficiaries have full, transparent and timely information and access to needed care."


"We recognize that change is hard," said Mr. Pittman. "This is about meeting the needs of patients in specific geographic areas, improving the quality and sustainability of our networks and deepening our relationships with providers over the long term." The company said it had no comment about the investigations.



So yet another unintended (and yet foreseeable) consequence of government intervention in free-markets...

"Fewer practitioners mean longer waits, longer drives, less convenience,"

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ZerOhead's picture

"If you like your doctor you can't keep your doctor..."


(If you lose your medical records as a result of the continuing fiasco don't worry... the NSA has a copy)

LetThemEatRand's picture

Obamacare is an utter failure, but United Health's claims that Obamacare is hurting its bottom line are laughable.  Look at their two year stock chart.;range=2y;compare=;indicator=volume;charttype=area;crosshair=on;ohlcvalues=0;logscale=off;source=undefined;

Income is up substantially.

You've got to love these big companies that just want an excuse to increase profits even more by sticking it to the workers (in this case, doctors).  I know, let's blame the legislation we co-wrote!  Even ZH will buy it!

Ignatius's picture

Communities/groups should just band together and hire GPs under contract to handle the needs of the group for a healthy, straight salary (waaay cheaper).

I'm guessing that this arrangement would be forbidden under NaziCare.

knukles's picture

The R's oughta just look at the Obieman and the D's and now say...
Look, we tried our best to pass a law, which got great bipartisan support, to help people keep the plans they liked.
Especially relevant after Obieman said he'd order the same thing, but he has not the power to unilaterally do so....
(So much for the Constitutional Lawyer Knowledge... which he is not...)
... so it appears that he neither wants the law as it is, nor wants it fixed...

... therefore it appears He would like us (the R's) to repeal it and just make it go away, saving him any further embarrassment...
.... which would probably be a fine and dandy bipartisan effort in front of elections...

OK all in favor of repealing the ACA, raise their leg and pee on Ms Sebaceous...

Do Not Negotiate with Marxists

markmotive's picture

Couldn't have asked for a better example...

Milton Friedman explodes the myth that government can provide goods and services at no one's expense.

The free lunch myth

AldousHuxley's picture

Government is the one giving healthcare practitioners professional protection and subsidies.


Medical Residency is paid by medicare.


Humans don't need to live past 85. But at each birth and death, Doctors are milking it.


orez65's picture

"Humans don't need to live past 85"

You don't need to live past now, shithead.

I know a lot of people that are over 85 and are living full lives and HELPING YOUNGER people.

johnQpublic's picture

if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. even if he quits, gets fired, or out right dies.

AldousHuxley's picture

I know a lot of people that are over 85 and are living full lives and HELPING YOUNGER people.


helping younger ones would be die when the time is due and not drag out the ending wasting family wealth on deathcare nursing homes or onyl to increase life by 1 more year at age 104 to 105. 

Live your lives to the fullest doesn't mean longass drawn out life. In Japan, thousands of elders in 110+ basically committ suicide because their own grandchildren have passed away.


If you want to live past nature's expiration date of 85, then YOU PAY. 

Stop taking opportunities from young Americans by wasting nation's resources in eldercare instead of education.


Truthseeker2's picture
Obamacare: Was the ACA a planned legislative disaster?



“But we have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it….”
— Spoken by Nancy Pelosi in March 2010 when she was Speaker of the House


GetZeeGold's picture



Death panels......for doctors.


Things seem to be accelerating at a rapid pace here.

NoDebt's picture

Al, I think we can figure out a better way to do this without going all "Logans Run" on our own population.  Your thinking implies we should turn to government and "pass a law".  Aafter all, how else could you accomplish what you are suggesting?  I think I've had about enough government meddling in my life already.  I want LESS of that kind of crap, not MORE.


Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

He's right. Live as long as you CAN LIVE. 10 years of being a medical vegable is a nightmare. My grandfather is 90, but he still lives and takes care of himself. His answer to a nursing home is "did I just have a baby?" Americans live shitty lives, and are afraid answering for it. 

FredFlintstone's picture

That is awesome. How are they helping the younger people?

greatbeard's picture

>> How are they helping the younger people?

My grandfather lived to be 89. He took me in as a child when he was in his late 70's.  He taught me many things in those last four years of his life that some would dismiss as wasted life.  He made the difference between a throw away child and a productive member of society.

It's just my opinion, but a royal fuck you to the folks who think they can be the judge of when life is valuable or not.

FredFlintstone's picture

Thanks for helping to answer my question. 

FredFlintstone's picture

I am glad that your grandfather was able to give you the love and nurturing that you deserved and I am sure that you were a great blessing to him and gave him a purpose to keep going. You were both very fortunate.

Unfortunately our compassionate government has made it everybodys business whether a life is valuable or not since these life/death/quality of life decisions more often than not lay a claim to resources earned by others. There are plenty of well-off people enjoying their golden years that not a burden to society. However, there is a whole industry using the elderly as conduit to siphon wealth from the public purse to their bank account. There was a time in our history when that was not possible.

There are elderly who do not want to die and want every means possible used to save their lives. To what end? To allow them do get a few more months of TV in? If it is their money and think that it is a wise choice, so be it. Great. If it is not their money, then it is ours or our childrens future labor paying for it. This is problematic to me. 

I do not want to outlive the resources that I have accumulated. I am not elderly, but have lived a good, full life with many experiences. I am not afraid of death and would not have any qualms leaving as I type this sentence. Medicare and medicaid at their current and anticipated trajectories are unsustainable. But there are people making a good living with the current system, so it will keep going for some time.



AldousHuxley's picture

social wealth is for social benefit.

How did your grandfather help you is your business so you should pay if he made so much of a difference in your life.


greatbeard's picture

You are basing a person's worth by age, not condition.  Some people are worn out at 60, some still humping it hard at 90.  Picking an arbitrary age to consider someone worthless is horseshit, which, I guess, is what one would expect to emanate from a horse's ass.



DaveyJones's picture

can we check your philosophy at 84? 

BigRedRider's picture

Ummmm…ahhhhh…ummmm…Nope. I got nothin.

The Joker's picture

Oh Knukles, knukles, knukles.  I'm dissappointed.  I always thought you were one of the more clever commentators here but alas you have been duped into thinking exactly what they want you to think too.

There is no difference between the Rs and the Ds, they all follow the same bought and paid for agenda, they just have different methods.  They want you to think they are different.

The Ds nor Obama are Marxists, they aren't trying to serve the people.  They are fascists, serving the rich and the giant corporations.  They want you to think they are marxists.

They are all clowns under the big tent in this circus.

ZerOhead's picture

Chinese doctors preferably since they will gladly render superior service at 1/10th the cost.

Fuck the AMA doctor's cartel... and fuck those $500/hr lawyers and the ABA...

knukles's picture

Are you needling me?


...get it... needle... acupuncture... Chinee docs?...


ZerOhead's picture

I'm not entirely sure if acupuncture is a real therapy or some sort of sadistic wayward Voodoo ritual.

Personally I'm afraid of needles and prefer "hookahs and hookers" for relief of whatever ails me...  ;)

Caveman93's picture

Funny you mention this. I am too also afraid of needles. However, after trying and failing repeatedly to knock up my wife over the last 5 years, we went together for acupuncture treatments. Her actualy "fertility" doc (cartel-card holder) told her a year ago she had a .05% chance of getting pregnant. He would gladly take our thousands tho to try. Yeah, two months later, voodoo make bun in oven. ;) I'll take the Chinese medicine any day. Seems to work better in my book. Also, my posture is better and I seem to be less stressed. Should try it sometime.

johnQpublic's picture

had a pinched nerve in my neck that was killing me...making my arm hurt,elbow etc. no pain killer touched it. chiropractor couldnt fix it. one session of accupuncture with a total of three jabs and it was fixed. done by a cartel doctor who happened to be chinese and listened to what i told him, and he did it perfect. he did have experience with it in his native land.

Freddie's picture

Did the accupuncture doctor put a needle through your pee pee?  I heard that works.

Van Halen's picture

You spelled 'Chireese' wrong.

max2205's picture

And here I thought we didn't have enough Drs ....all those Dr Bombays here....India is going to have a recession for new Drs

max2205's picture

And here I thought we didn't have enough Drs ....all those Dr Bombays here....India is going to have a recession for new Drs

Pure Evil's picture

Ya gotta find some way to get rid of these old geezers. Adding more stress and hardship to their lives is one way to help push them into the grave.

kchrisc's picture

"Ya gotta find some way to get rid of these old geezers."

They're taking all the jobs.

zhandax's picture

I certainly hope both of you are referring to the old geezers in DC in which case you are both correct.

Pure Evil's picture

Well, before everyone gets their panties in a bunch over my comment, yes they are looking to eliminate the old and sick under NaziCare.

Just like the Nazi's used every device available to rid Germany of the feeble and useless they've got to find a way to prune down the sheer magnitude of baby boomers that will be retiring over the next 20 to 25 years.

Because of the economy a lot of boomers are already putting a strain on SS by not waiting until the age when they can collect full benefits. Not everyone 55 and over is retaining their jobs. They're just not losing their jobs at the same rate as other age groups. But, I can tell you that once you're out the door, very few other places are willing to take in an aging boomer.

If boomers are expecting to live happily into their 80's and 90's while taking advantage of Medicare to keep them going, they are in for a rude surprise.

Van Halen's picture

I would not doubt for a moment that this whole Obamacare horror was planned long ago under Agenda 21.

kchrisc's picture

I should have put a sarcasm tag in there. I was jokingly referring to how the employment scene seems to be only growing for older folks that would prefer to be retiring.


As for DC, I'm not discriminating, treason is treason regardless the age of the criminal.

orez65's picture

"Ya gotta find some way to get rid of these old geezers."

Us, "old geezers" can kick your ass anytime and as often as we want.

We got the knowledge, the wisdom and the capital to do it.

Fuck you, asshole!!



Single payor system would blow your plan out of the water, you see it will be against the law for anyone or municipality to pay for the muppets doctor/hospital bills. ONLY the government would have authortiy to pay.

disabledvet's picture

boo-hoooo. "let them eat rand" complaining about "the bottom line approach." Phuck you dipshit. you're right up there with Rahmbo and his psycho-pathetic nut job butt buddies. the Dem's now discover the true meaning of "Medi-scare" as now "it's the Doctors are themselves being kicked to the curb"? perhaps we could start by say...putting doctors on the payroll and making sure they're "accounted for" in our "health plan"? no? yes? maybe? not guaranteeing care of course...but at least the Doctor is being cared for in some way. as they say of lawyers "there are never too many good ones" and it's not like there is a shortage it a monetization scheme again?

LetThemEatRand's picture

So what part of the fact that UnitedHealth is lying about the reason for terminating doctors don't you understand?  Take off the Team glasses fuckhead.

jekyll island's picture

United is terminating all the physicians as a negotiating tactic, all the major insurers do this. Some groups who have a lot of UNH lives covered will cave and sign a contract for lower rate. United is also hoping that patients will beg their doctors to stay in network and bring pressure on physicians to take less.
FWIW, BC/BS went all in on Obamacare and they are going to take it up the ass if it falls apart. Keep this in mind when picking new insurance coverage.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Exactly right.  Obamacare is further consolidating the power of the largest and most cut-throat insurance companies.  Insurance companies will get more money, doctors will receive less money, and we the people will get less care.   All that anyone needs to do is look at who wrote the legislation (insurance companies).  But of course in MSM the debate completely ignores this little detail and the sheep argue about socialism.  

WillyGroper's picture

Many Drs. here are opting out of the parasitic system. Cash up front & I don't blame them. They're squeezed on reimbursements & malpractice insurance premiums.

Someone mentioned cancer treatment centers in TX in another post. I was told the other day by a sleep specialist that TX is the biggest cancer cluster in the USSA.  $300K per patient that's worth. I asked if he thought it was due to atrazine & he didn't know. Piqued my curiosity, so I looked up clusters of illness/disease. There's certain places in this country that you might want to choose to stay away from according to your gender. Clusters of breast & prostate cancer all over the place. 

max2205's picture

That's where the aged retire...what'd you expect...check FL and the rest

Urban Redneck's picture

United Health is managing their network of doctors just like they are managing the IT network for ZeroCare.