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Rebuilding and Restoration: UHG Makes Strides in Wake of Cyberattack

March 20, 2024

One of things that keeps life interesting is the release of new information. Americans have access to multiple cable news outlets and innumerable headline sources on the web and in print. Sometimes the information is distressing and sometimes it can be heartening. Today’s alert may be seen by many as an example of the latter.

There is new information involving the cyberattack on Change Healthcare last month that sent shockwaves throughout the healthcare industry. According to a March 18 press release by Change Healthcare’s parent entity, UnitedHealth Group (UHG), the company has undertaken significant measures to respond to the February attack and restore confidence to the larger healthcare sector.

This is welcome news as the cyberattack has been called the most significant and consequential of its kind. In a survey of nearly 1,000 hospitals conducted by the American Hospital Association (AHA) in mid-March, 94 percent of hospitals reported some measure of financial impact from the event, while more than half reported a “significant or serious” impact.

Becker’s Health IT is reporting that provider claim submissions have dropped by more than one-third, according to an analysis of 1,850 hospitals and 250,000 physicians. Through March 9, the total estimated cash flow impact for hospitals reporting data is $6.3 billion in delayed payments.

Billions for the Battered

In an effort to assist healthcare providers whose finances and work patterns have been disrupted by the cyberattack, the UHG has advanced more than $2 billion through various initiatives. According to its press release, “The company recognizes the high level of fragmentation of the U.S. health system can result in uneven experiences, therefore it continues to enhance and expand funding support to make it easier for care providers to access funding help at no cost.” As a means of further assisting care providers, the company has also suspended prior authorization requirements for most outpatient services and utilization review of inpatient admissions for Medicare Advantage plans.

Care providers in need of financial assistance are encouraged to register for the UHG funding program at to view pre-populated funding assistance levels. For those needing additional support or help with eligibility, the company recommends they use the “temporary funding assistance inquiry form” or call 1-877-702-3253.

It is clear that UHG is aware that the need for additional cash flow is becoming acute for many providers at this time, and this funding program is a welcome first step.

Software Strides

The health giant is also launching a software solution in an effort to work around any current compromised systems. The software is specifically designed for medical claims preparation and became available on March 18. Here is part of the press release that addresses the software aspect of the company’s response to the cyberattack and ensuing claims processing issues:

Today Change Healthcare will begin releasing medical claims preparation software, an important step in the resumption of services. This will be made available to thousands of customers over the next several days. The company expects to have third-party attestations available prior to services becoming operational. Following this initial phase, remaining services restoration will continue through ongoing phases of activation until all customers have been connected.

The company asserts that it is continuing to make significant progress in the restoration of those services that were impacted by the cyberattack. UnitedHealth Group CEO Andrew Witty added the following: “We know this has been an enormous challenge for healthcare providers and we encourage any in need to contact us.” That is certainly a very gracious and magnanimous offer and strikes the right tone, but UHG may find its phone lines jammed for the next several days due to calls from all the concerned medical professionals and other affected parties wishing to take advantage of CEO Witty’s kind invitation.

Other Updates

On March 15, the company restored Change Healthcare’s electronic payments platform and is proceeding with payer implementations, according to the UHG press release. The company states that, by March 7, it had restored 99 percent of the Change Healthcare pharmacy network services and assures us that it is cleaning up remaining issues.

The company held a call in which it provided a detailed update with customers, care providers and their information security teams on March 18. In addition, the company has launched a series of educational on-demand webinars to help providers and customers learn how to reconnect to its claims and payment networks and to explain how to take advantage of the temporary funding assistance programs.

We at Coronis Health are encouraged by UHG’s efforts to restore programs and processes that affect so many in the healthcare industry. In restoring these, it has taken a large step in restoring confidence among care entities and providers, reassuring them that things are getting back on track and that there are some stop-gap measures available for those experiencing current difficulties.

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