Georgia regulators fine UnitedHealthcare, subsidiaries $750,000

UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co. and three of its subsidiaries were ordered to pay a $750,000 fine by Georgia regulators for delaying payment on thousands of health claims.

The fines were levied against Minneapolis, Minn.-based UnitedHealthcare and sister companies UnitedHealthcare of Georgia, American Medical Security Life Insurance Co. and Golden Rule Insurance Co., according to the Georgia Office of Insurance.

In August 1999, Georgia Insurance Commissioner John W. Oxendine issued a directive that all healthcare plans licensed in the state must submit claims data each quarter, to ensure the plans were complying with Georgia law.

State regulators said that based on data submitted through March 31 by the four companies, it was determined they were in violation of Georgia law regarding prompt payments of claims.

“It is unfortunate that fines must be imposed to encourage compliance,” Oxendine said in a statement. “Consumers and doctors deserve prompt payment. I will continue to aggressively pursue those companies who do not comply with the law.”

Oxendine added that his office is reviewing data from other insurers and “we expect more fines in the near future.”

Daryl Richard, a spokesman for UnitedHealthcare, told that the insurer currently processes 97% of claims within 15 days of submission in Georgia, and the settlement “involves only the small percentage of claims not processed within 15 days.

“Timely and accurate payment is important and UnitedHealthcare processes 99% of claims for its Georgia customers within 30 days,” he said.