Insurer withdraws $37 million request

By John O'Brien | Mar 29, 2007


PROVIDENCE, R.I. - After being scolded by Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch for requesting a $36.8 million dividend for its shareholders, United HealthCare of New England has decided to put the plan on hold.

Lynch would rather see the money go toward lowering what he calls ever-rising health insurance premiums.

Wednesday, the company temporarily withdrew its application for the dividend. Lynch called it "temporary good news."

"Although I'm relieved to see that United HealthCare of New England has temporarily withdrawn its application to take Rhode Island ratepayers' money and run, my relief is only temporary," he added. "The bigger issue at stake here still needs to be addressed. And that is, how has United been able to amass such an extraordinary surplus in such a short time when the premiums it charges subscribers continue to increase, the procedures it covers for subscribers continue to decrease, and the reimbursement it pays to health-care providers continue to lag?"

Lynch said he would like to see the Office of the Health Insurance Commission find the answers to those questions.

Based in Minnesota, United HealthCare handles health care for all state employees and promised to invest 10 percent of the dividend to support statewide healthcare and technology development.

Last week, Lynch said the dividends over the past year would amount to $54 million if this one is approved.

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