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United Health Group settles with US securities watchdog

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 21 January 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b99
  1. Janice Hopkins Tanne
  1. 1New York

    The US stock market watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), filed a settlement agreement with United Health Group in December over charges that the company violated security laws.

    In a separate settlement, this month the company signed an agreement with the New York state attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, to replace its Ingenix reimbursement system for patients who use “out of network” doctors—doctors who are not part of an insurance company’s network. Ingenix, a wholly owned subsidiary of United Health, is the nation’s largest provider of healthcare billing information. Its information is used by United Health and many other health insurance companies.

    United Health Group, the second largest US health insurance company, is the parent of several health insurance and related companies. It insures more than 70 million US residents.

    The Securities and Exchange Commission announced last month that it had settled enforcement actions against United Health and its former general counsel, David Lubben. The commission had alleged that the company “engaged in a scheme to backdate stock options.” It said, “Without admitting or denying the allegations, United Health agreed to settle charges that it violated the reporting, books and records, and internal controls provisions of the federal securities laws.”

    The commission said that it “declined to charge the company with fraud or seek a monetary penalty, based on the company’s extraordinary cooperation in the Commission’s investigation, as well as its extensive remedial measures.”

    In a statement the company said, “United Health Group is pleased to have resolved this matter with the SEC and will continue to focus on serving its customers, growing its businesses, reinforcing its community and customer relationships, and helping people live healthier lives. Over the past two years, the company has substantially improved its governance, administrative processes, and internal controls, helping it become one of the …

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