Lawsuit: UnitedHealth illegally denies mental health coverage

UnitedHealth isn't providing equal coverage for mental health conditions, instead requiring strict medical criteria and pre-authorizations not needed for primary care, according to a lawsuit from a psychiatrist group and some mental health patients.

The New York State Psychiatric Association said in its lawsuit, which was filed Monday in federal court, that UnitedHealth has limited, delayed or denied mental health treatment in violation of state parity law requiring equal coverage for mental health, reported the Minnesota Public Radio.

NYSPA alleged UnitedHealth "unjustifiably stringent medical-necessity criteria and pre-authorization requirements for mental health services," according to Bloomberg.

UnitedHealth also systematically denied coverage for mental health services if the provider wasn't part of its network and blamed others for not responding to its requests for additional information, but the psychiatric association claims UnitedHealth never made those requests.

NYSPA said it has received thousands of complaints related to UnitedHealth's unfair mental health coverage, which it claimed effectively discourage mental healthcare, Reuters reported.

UnitedHealth said it's still reviewing the lawsuit, adding that it's "committed to helping people with mental health issues reach long-term recovery," Brad Lotterman, a spokesman for UnitedHealth, told Bloomberg.  

To learn more:
- read the Minnesota Public Radio article
- check out the Bloomberg article
- see the Thompson Reuters article