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UnitedHealth Pays $2 Bn After Cyberattack, Restores Some Services

Written by : Aishwarya Sarthe

March 21, 2024

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The healthcare giant has begun releasing medical claims preparation software to customers, with plans for third-party attestations before services are fully online.

In response to the cyberattack on Change Healthcare, UnitedHealth Group (UHG) has undertaken significant measures, including the payment of over $2 billion in advanced payments as part of its relief initiatives. 

The attack, which targeted Change Healthcare's systems, has caused widespread disruption in claims processing across the healthcare industry.

In an update, Andrew Witty, Group CEO, UnitedHealth, said, "We continue to make significant progress in restoring the services impacted by this cyberattack." 

Witty emphasized the company's commitment to supporting healthcare providers affected by the attack, encouraging those in need to reach out for assistance.

Restoration Efforts & Advanced Payments

In the ongoing efforts, the healthcare giant has begun releasing medical claims preparation software to customers, with plans for third-party attestations before services are fully online. 

Also, the company aims to roll out the software to thousands of customers in the coming days.

"We are committed to providing relief for people affected by this malicious attack on the U.S. health system,” Witty noted. 

Furthermore, UnitedHealth Group has also suspended prior authorizations for outpatient care and is reviewing similar steps for inpatient admissions in Medicare Advantage.

Following the cyber incident, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) investigated into Change Healthcare and UnitedHealth Group's compliance with HIPAA rules. OCR director Melanie Fontes Rainer highlighted the need to assess the breach's impact on patient information protection.

Additionally, the Biden administration has reportedly launched an antitrust probe into UnitedHealth Group's business dealings and provider acquisitions, adding to the company's regulatory challenges.

Provider Support & Legal Fallout

Pressure mounts on UnitedHealth Group to support struggling providers, with federal officials urging additional funds for cash-strapped healthcare entities. 

The White House, alongside HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, emphasized the need for payers to assist providers facing payment challenges due to the cyberattack.

Amid the disruption, lawsuits have emerged against Change Healthcare, with patients seeking recourse for data breaches and service interruptions. Legal action highlights concerns about data protection and its impact on patient care.

The cyber incident's impact extends beyond UnitedHealth Group, affecting pharmacies and healthcare services nationwide. Change Healthcare's systems remain offline, with ongoing efforts to restore functionality and mitigate disruption.

The American Hospital Association recommends disconnecting from Optum's services until the cybersecurity incident is resolved, underscoring concerns about potential disruptions to revenue cycles and clinical operations.

Ongoing Investigation & Response

Additionally, federal agencies continue to investigate the cyberattack, highlighting the healthcare sector's vulnerability to ransomware threats. 

Moreover, UnitedHealth Group collaborates with law enforcement and cybersecurity experts to address the breach, prioritizing patient and partner protection.

UnitedHealth Group's response to the cyberattack on Change Healthcare highlights the significant challenges facing the healthcare sector in protecting against cyber threats. 

As restoration efforts continue and regulatory scrutiny intensifies, stakeholders across the industry must prioritize cybersecurity and resilience to safeguard patient care and data privacy.


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