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Mental Health Parity Lawsuit Settled by UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare agreed to settle a proposed class action lawsuit filed under the federal mental health parity law. The lawsuit claimed that UnitedHealthcare improperly limited insurance coverage for mental health services by covering a patient’s first 20 visits, partially covering the next 20 visits and refusing to cover any additional visits.

Litigation under the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act – which generally requires insurers to cover mental health services on the same terms they cover medical and surgical services – has been on the rise since the law’s passage in 2008.

The settlement will benefit 31 people who receive insurance through Kaiser Aluminum Corp., a California aluminum manufacturer, according to documents filed Jan. 24 in a federal court in Seattle. (Carr v. United HealthCare Servs., Inc., W.D. Wash., No. 2:15-cv-1105, motion for preliminary settlement approval filed Jan. 24, 2017). The lawsuit initially sought greater coverage for “thousands” of participants in various group health plans affected by UnitedHealthcare’s mental health coverage limitations.

As part of the settlement, UnitedHealthcare has agreed to lift coverage restrictions for mental health treatment for Kaiser’s employees and their families and reimburse them for coverage they were denied in the past. The settlement is pending approval by a judge before it goes into effect.

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