Wednesday, September 4, 2013

UnitedHealth Group Inc. Doesn't Care About Blacks, Hispanics, or the Poor

By Michael Fuller, Portland Trial Attorney

United Health Care recently sent me a promotion for its "Wellness Fitness Reimbursement Program" through my work-provided insurance policy.

UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE: UNH) is the $74,270,000,000 company that operates United Health Care.

The Program appeared straightforward: attend my gym regularly and United Health Care would reimburse $20 of my monthly dues.

So far, so good.

United Health Care's "Wellness Fitness Reimbursement Program" Offer

I immediately called to enroll, only to learn I didn't qualify.

The reason for my exclusion: I'm "unbanked."

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un·banked
Adjective.
     1. consumers that lack a deposit account at an insured depository institution.

Citation: 2011 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households
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(For more on why I'm unbanked, check out the latest post in my series on the Bluebird prepaid card)

UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s exclusion applies to all but two of its participating gym locations (neither of which are in my area).

Further, the exclusion applies even though I don't even have a bank account on file with my gym (I use my prepaid Bluebird card to pay my monthly gym dues).

Maybe the exclusion was simply an oversight in what appeared to be an otherwise positive Program.

Maybe UnitedHealth Group Inc. didn't know that its exclusion of the unbanked meant I couldn't participate.

Maybe UnitedHealth Group Inc. didn't know that Blacks, Hispanics, and the poor are disproportionately affected by obesity and less likely to use the banking system than other similarly-situated Americans.

To be sure, I called UnitedHealth Group Inc. in June. It's representative said she didn't know the reason for the exclusion and suggested I write it a letter.

So I did.

My letter to United Health Care dated June 24, 2013

I also attached research from the National Center for Health Statistics and the FDIC to support my concerns.

It's now two months later and UnitedHealth Group Inc. refuses to respond or otherwise explain its policy.

No big deal. 

At least now it's clear: UnitedHealth Group Inc. knows about the disparate impact; it just doesn't care about Blacks, Hispanics, or the Poor.

Or unbanked lawyers.