A Las Vegas jury dealt a unanimous verdict against the nation’s largest health insurance company Monday, ruling United Healthcare cheated out-of-network emergency room doctors out of millions of dollars in proper reimbursements for the lifesaving work they performed.
The month-long trial featured revelations that United had gutted reimbursements to doctors handling heart attacks, strokes, and gunshot wounds to less than $200, all so the company could generate another billion dollars in profits.
“To look at the scheme they had to underpay and underpay us to protect our community was a shot in the gut,” said Sunrise Medical Center Doctor Scott Scherr, an emergency room doctor who helped saved many lives the night of the deadly Las Vegas mass killings in 2017. “This sends a message to insurance companies that you know we need to be compensated fairly for the emergency care that we provide.”
Houston Attorney John Zavitsanos said United had treated life savers as third-rate citizens for the past three years to feed the greed of an insurance company and he praised the jury for sending a clear message.
“They found by clear and convincing evidence that their conduct, and I am going to steal one of their words, that their conduct was egregious, and the jury will return to make an example out of them to other insurance companies of how health care professionals should not be treated,” said Zavitsanos.
The jury ruled United and other defendants had to pay a little more than $2 million in damages to doctors for the payments they were cheated out of, but United may see a much bigger punishment when the jury returns December 7th to decide on the amount of punitive damages the insurance giant now owes these doctors.
The court victory in Las Vegas sets the stage for similar lawsuits in 10 states over the conduct of United Healthcare.