Last Updated: March, 2019

UnitedHealth is a health corporation based in the USA. It is important to understand its nature because it is increasingly present in the UK as the NHS is privatised and therefore new opportunities open up for UnitedHealth and the other large US health corporations. Further more, some key architects of NHS 'reforms' have close ties to UnitedHealth.

Just Another Criminal Corporation

From 2000 to 2002 UnitedHealth was fined $7-million after being charged with cheating the US government, cheating doctors and cheating patients.

In 2002 UnitedHealth paid $2.9-million in compensation to the US government after charging the US government for non-existent patients in nursing homes.

In 2002 UnitedHealth was fined $1.5-million for cheating patients out of money.

In 2002 their vice president Michael Mooney was jailed for three and a half years and fined $220-thousand for insider trading.

From 2002 to 2004 UnitedHealth paid $2-million in penalties in nine different US states for a variety of different offences including passing work to doctors who's medical licence had been revoked.

Revolving Door

In 2004  Simon Stevens  who had been Tony Blair's senior health policy advisor in the early 2000s, joined UnitedHealth as their Executive Vice President, and later CEO. Simon Stevens came back to the NHS in 2014 to take the top job as Chief Executive of the newly formed  NHS England .

In 2004 Richard Smith, the editor of the then editor of the British Medical Journal also joined UnitedHealth as their CEO.

In 2005 Tony Sampson who was the Private Secretary to Health Secretary  Alan Milburn , went on to become UnitedHealth's chief lobbyist in the UK until 2013.

Andrew Harrison, Alan Milburn's media advisor joined 'Hanover', a lobbying firm that has lobbied for UnitedHealth since 2007.

In 2008 UnitedHealth Europe (re-branded in the UK as Optum to escape the reputation of its parent company in the US) bid for 3 GP practices in Camden and won the contract because they promised to deliver the services for less money than the local doctors, even though the local doctors were judged to be offering better services. But in 2010 after making a loss of nearly £14-million UnitedHealth decided to pull out of primary care.

Believe it or not, it is legal for contracts to be sold on without local commissioners having a say, so UnitedHealth sold the contract for the GP services to The Practice Plc (the UKs largest operator of privatised GP practices). In 2012 patients found that one of the 3 privatised practices was about to close because The Practice Plc was making financial losses. The 4,700 patients dependent upon the privatised practice had to be accommodated by the non-privatised GP practices in the local area. The NHS GPs noted that there were problems with the transfer of patient records and that the private practice had apparently given appalling care, with patients often on the wrong medication.

When questioned, a UnitedHealth spokeswoman said that the Camden practice was nothing to do with them any more.

Early termination of contracts is very common, see  Care UK .