UnitedHealthcare delays preauthorization policy

Healthcare insurer UnitedHealthcare (UHC) has delayed its planned "site of care" preauthorization review policy for certain hospital outpatient CT, MR, and MR angiography procedures until February 1, according to the American College of Radiology (ACR).

The policy, which had been scheduled to begin on January 1, was delayed to "allow time for additional communication and optimal rollout," the insurer said in its January bulletin. Previously announced in UHC's October bulletin, the initiative aims to shift imaging from hospitals to freestanding imaging facilities.

UHC said the policy is intended to minimize out-of-pocket costs for its members and to improve cost efficiencies for the overall healthcare system. Site reviews will not be performed if the imaging procedure is to be provided at a freestanding diagnostic imaging center or in an office setting.

The policy change will apply to all states except Iowa, Kentucky, and Utah, and it will be implemented on UHC commercial benefit plans, including exchange benefit plans and its Neighborhood Health Partnership, UnitedHealthcare of the River Valley, and UnitedHealthcare benefit plans.

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