UnitedHealth UK is a private healthcare company, which since 2002 has been working with all levels of the NHS. The official in charge of the NHS in England, Simon Stevens worked for UnitedHealth for the previous decade, rising to Executive vice president of the UnitedHealth Group.
US private healthcare
UnitedHealth UK is owned by the UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest health insurers in the USA. It serves more than 75 million people worldwide.
A bigger piece of the NHS
In July 2010 it was awarded a contract from the UK Department of Health to advise primary care trusts, beating Bupa and another US health insurer.
Like Humana, Aetna, and Tribal, UnitedHealth is poised to cash in on the government's proposed changes to NHS commissioning, which will see budgets handed over to GPs. It has produced 'The Essential Guide to GP Commissioning' with the National Association of Primary Care.
Suppliers to the NHS
In 2015 NHS England announced a new list of approved suppliers to the NHS. The list is dominated by outsourcing giants Capita; management consultancies PwC and KPMG; and UnitedHealth. NHS England insists the companies who are bidding for contracts to supply support services to the GP-led commission groups will supply a range of back office functions, cutting procurement times and allowing doctors to focus on how best to spend their £70bn share of the NHS budget.' All of the firms are members of the Commissioning Support Industry Group, a 'low-profile body that affords them regular access to the senior NHS officials overseeing the creation of the new market in commissioning services.' Other members of the Group include management firms Ernst and Young and McKinsey who have also been awarded prominent roles.
The Guardian reported in July 2010 how UnitedHealth has faced accusations of overcharging and malpractice in a series of legal suits.
- In 2008 it agreed to pay $50m after the New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo sued the company "as part of a broad probe into how insurers pay doctors and hospitals that aren't in the companies networks". According to Cuomo, UnitedHealth's Ingenix unit operated a "defective and manipulated database" to set charges for medical services.
- Its California subsidiary was fined a record $3.5m in the same year for mishandled claims against patients and doctors. In 2006 The UnitedHealth chief executive William McGuire resigned after an investigation "concluded he had received stock option grants 'likely backdated' to allow insiders to maximise financial gains." During his tenure as chief executive, McGuire was granted more than $1.6bn in stock options. In 2007, McGuire avoided trial after he agreed to repay $468m.
Simon Stevens, Former executive vice president, UnitedHealth Group. According to the Health Service Journal, Stevens: "The man behind new Labour’s NHS reforms is now neck deep in the battle to reinvent US healthcare. He appears in the HSJ100 because his example demonstrates what radical reform can achieve - even Tory policy wonks revere him. More importantly he keeps tabs on what is happening in the NHS and, quietly, makes his opinion known."
3rd Floor, 3 Sheldon Square
London W2 6HY
- Tamasin Cave, The privatising cabal at the heart of our NHS Spinwatch, 1 April 2015.
- United Health UK The Essential Guide to GP Commissioning, accessed November 2010
- Jamie Doward Fears grow over ‘land grab’ of NHS by private suppliers Guardian, 2 May 2015, accessed 4 May 2015.
- Phillip Inman,UnitedHealth: Big profits but some questions, 16 July 2010
- Health Service Journal, HSJ100 2010, 17 November, 2010