Driving the news: The largest U.S. health insurer came under fire from provider and hospital groups who said the policy came at a particularly bad time, given that many patients might still be avoiding seeking appropriate care because of lingering COVID fears.
Get market news worthy of your time with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free.
In a letter, Federation of American Hospitals CEO Chip Kahn called on UnitedHealthcare to "permanently" rescind the policy.
What's happening: United said it would delay the policy until at least until the "end of the national public health emergency period."
Between the lines: The pandemic already led to large reductions in patients seeking ER care, leaving experts to wonder why the nation's largest health insurer now wanted to initiate a change that would force patients to diagnose themselves and self-ration care.
Research published this week in Health Affairs found the most serious visits — those for emergency, nonpreventable care — decreased by 40%, and nonemergency visits decreased by 52%, Axios' Caitlin Owens reported.
The decision seemed to be motivated by making sure people didn't return to old habits, Chas Roades, a co-founder of Gist Healthcare, told New York Times. "I can't quite believe the juice is really worth the squeeze on this policy right now," he said.
Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.