UnitedHealth still beset by delays related to Tricare contract

UnitedHealth still hasn't fixed all the problems associated with its $20 billion Tricare contract, but the U.S. Department of Defense is giving the nation's largest insurer another break.

The DoD is allowing UnitedHealth additional time to reduce delays in handling referrals and authorizations for Tricare members to see specialist providers in the western part of the country, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.  

The emergency measure, which the DoD has now extended three times, allows primary care doctors to refer patients directly to specialists without first obtaining a review from UnitedHealth. The DoD first waived the specialty care authorizations in April; the latest extension lasts through July 2, reported the Hartford Courant.

And although UnitedHealth has made some improvements to its call center responsible for handling the referrals and authorizations, it can make more progress regarding specialty-care referrals, Tricare Spokesman Austin Camacho told Bloomberg.

"The bad news is that the problem isn't solved yet," said Sheryl Skolnick, an analyst with CRT Capital Group, Bloomberg noted. "The pipe is still clogged."

To learn more:
- see the Minneapolis Star Tribune article
- read the Hartford Courant article
- check out the Bloomberg article