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Missouri fines 3 UnitedHealth units

Three UnitedHealth Group Inc. units paid a $150,000 fine aspart of a settlement with the Missouri Department of Insurance, resolvingallegations that they unlawfully restricted members' access to in-networkproviders.

Under the settlement, UnitedHealthcare Insurance Co., andUnitedHealthcare Life InsuranceCo. agreed to stop requiring non-health maintenance organizationgroup plan members to obtain a referral from a primary care physician beforethey could see or be treated by another in-network provider, starting inOctober.

The insurers also agreed to transfer small- and large-groupbusiness to non-HMO products that do not have gatekeeper requirements and payfor claims that were previously denied or reduced.