UnitedHealth takes aim at Envision's ER billing practices through new website — 5 insights

Shocked by your ER bill? So is UnitedHealthcare, according to a new website launched by the payer that takes aim at Envision Healthcare's emergency room billing practices.

Here's what you should know.

1. The website is the latest in a series of disputes between the two companies. UnitedHealth was in talks to acquire Envision's ambulatory subsidiary, AmSurg, which ended suddenly after Envision sued UnitedHealth over allegations that the payer violated a contract by refusing to add Envision physicians to its network, and lowering negotiated payment rates, which Envision objected to.

2. UnitedHealth linked to a piece in The New York Times and to a study conducted by New Haven, Conn.-based Yale University researchers that found Envision's EmCare division was at fault for the high ER bills. EmCare allegedly did not sign contracts with payers allowing for the out-of-network prices.

3. The site also features a fact sheet listing, "The facts behind Envision Healthcare and other companies now managing many of our nation's ERs," and offers consumers three tips to avoid excessive out-of-network charges or surprise bills.

4. On the fact sheet, UnitedHealth said it was negotiating a new contract with Envision to bring the company's providers in network. The payer took several shots at Envision alleging Envision charged on average 975 percent more than what Medicare pays for the same service.

For example, at a UnitedHealth-contracted hospital that managed its own ER, a patient with bronchitis was charged $265 for a treatment. In an Envision-managed ER, that same patient was charged $683. UnitedHealth once again cited Medicare pricing, saying Envision charged 1,101 percent more than what Medicare pays.

5. UnitedHealth said, "We are committed to finding solutions to bring greater transparency, predictability and consumer protections to your emergency room care."

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