Insurer under fire for millions in unpaid claims

Anthem has captured the attention of multiple hospitals and health systems across the U.S. as allegations of underpayment and inappropriate denials accumulate.

The insurer has been forced to pay millions already and continues to face off with providers.

Anthem is facing allegations of $70 million in unpaid claims from Portland-based MaineHealth. The health system said earlier this year that its flagship hospital, Maine Medical Center, would no longer contract with the insurer after its contract expires next year. Jeffrey Barkin, MD, president of the Maine Medical Association, said other providers in the state are leaving Anthem for the same reason.

In Georgia, the state insurance commissioner fined Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield $5 million in March for failing to pay in a timely manner, delays in loading provider contracts and inaccurate provider directories.

VCU Health in Richmond, Va., said last year that 40 percent of its claims with Anthem were more than 90 days old and the insurer owed $385 million, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association said Anthem has hundreds of millions of dollars in late and unpaid claims to hospitals across the state.

Eleven Indiana hospitals have also had trouble with Anthem. The hospitals alleged Anthem's reimbursement system added a $50 triage fee and asked for additional patient records to avoid denial for 60 to 70 percent of thousands of emergency room claims from 2017-20. The hospitals alleged the strategy breached their contract with Anthem because hospitals are required to stabilize all patients requesting emergency services. A federal arbiter recently ordered Anthem to pay $4.5 million to the hospitals and said the insurer cannot use its list of diagnostic codes to downgrade or deny claims.

The Indiana hospitals are still counting the denied claims and said they are owed $12 million from Anthem due to downgraded claims.

The American Hospital Association accused Anthem of asking for prior authorizations for routine surgeries as roadblocks to patient care in a letter sent to the insurer last year. In 2021, 53 percent of Anthem's medical bills for the second quarter were unpaid, amounting to $2.5 billion, according to the Times-Dispatch report.


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