UnitedHealth's Change to begin processing $14B in medical claims

UnitedHealth Group said on Friday it expects more than $14 billion in medical claims to start flowing soon through its unit Change Healthcare as several services for handling them gradually come online over the next few weeks following a hack last month.

The company provided an estimated timeline on its website, stating that “products will go through a phased reconnection process, including launch, testing and scaled reconnection.”

The health insurer said its software for preparing medical claims Assurance went online on Monday, while its largest clearinghouse Relay Exchange will resume the weekend of March 23rd.

UnitedHealth also expects to engage all those who submitted claims during the week of March 25.

The company's other products that handle eligibility of claims such as Clearance and Coverage Insight as well as pharmacy claims submission software MedRx and Reimbursement Manager are expected to go online next week. Several more products are likely to go online over the weeks of April 1 and April 8, the company said.

UnitedHealth Group restoration timeline

Change Healthcare, which processes about 50% of medical claims in the US for around 900,000 physicians, 33,000 pharmacies, 5,500 hospitals, and 600 laboratories, was breached on February 21st by the ALPHV/BlackCat ransomware group.

The cyberattack has disrupted payments to US doctors and healthcare facilities nationwide for a month, especially community health centers that serve more than 30 million poor and uninsured patients.

UnitedHealth had suspended paperwork required to get approval for insurance coverage for most outpatient services, as well as review of inpatient admissions for government-backed Medicare Advantage plans to help those impacted.

The insurer said it will work with payers to ensure there are a maximum number of available locations for claims and is actively coordinating with other clearinghouses to make sure there are no capacity issues.

A clearinghouse acts as a middleman between a healthcare provider and a health plan that checks claims to ensure they do not contain errors before forwarding them for payment.

Some products, however, were not listed in Friday's update as it does not yet have clarity of when they will be restored, the company said, adding it will provide updated information as those timelines become clear.