Apparently physicians in several states besides New Jersey are catching the attention of their insurance regulators over UnitedHealthcare’s effort to fine doctors who continue to use out-of-network laboratories. Now, state authorities in Texas, Connecticut, Iowa, Florida, and California have joined New Jersey state regulators by announcing plans to review the legality of the $50 fine announced by United Healthcare for doctor’s who refer their patients to out-of-network laboratories.
In March, the California Medical Association said that this new policy illegally interferes with PPO patients’ right to access out-of-network benefits and improperly obstructs the physician-patient relationship.
“Patients have the right to decide where to receive health care services, without having to worry that their physicians are being fined or otherwise penalized for their choices. This right is particularly acute for patients who pay premiums for nonexclusive PPO benefits,” wrote CMA chief legal counsel Catherine Hanson. “And physicians have the right to speak freely with their patients about their health care choices, without having to worry that they will be fined or otherwise penalized should their patients choose an out-of-network option.”