SUMMARY OF THE LAWSUIT
On October 23, 2020, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint against UnitedHealth Group, Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiaries (collectively “United” or “Defendants”) for breach of fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended, (“ERISA”) in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota.
United insures and administers healthcare plans, including employer group health plans, which are governed by ERISA (all such ERISA plans administered by United referred to herein as a “Plan” or “Plans”). This class action challenges United’s taking of “cross-plan offsets” against the thousands of Plans it administers. Cross-plan offsetting occurs when United uses the assets from one Plan to recoup a financial loss from another, separate Plan. Plaintiffs allege that by engaging in cross-plan offsetting, United treats the thousands of self-insured Plans it administers as one extremely large piggybank, moving hundreds of millions of dollars among its Plans each year to suit its own interests. Each cross-plan offset violates ERISA, and in most cases, the money ends up in United’s own pocket.
United breaches its fiduciary and statutory duties through the practice of cross-plan offsetting, because it takes cross-plan offsets only for its own benefit. Indeed, Plaintiffs allege that cross-plan offsetting harms every other party involved in the offset transaction, including:
- Plans, whose assets are taken by United and used for non-Plan purposes, requiring that Plans use additional or replacement Plan assets to pay benefits;
- Plan participants, whose Plan contributions are taken by United for non-Plan purposes;
- Plan participants, whose particular benefits are seized by United and may suffer the additional harm of being “balance billed” by their provider for nonpayment;
- Employers and unions, whose monetary contributions to the Plan are taken and used for non-Plan purposes; and
- Providers, who do not get paid for providing covered healthcare services to Plan participants and beneficiaries.
This litany of harms would not exist if United simply administered claims in compliance with ERISA and used the assets of each individual health Plan it administers to provide benefits to the beneficiaries of that particular Plan.
CLASS ACTION ALLEGATIONS
This lawsuit is brought on behalf of the following persons: All participants and beneficiaries of ERISA-governed employee welfare benefit Plans administered by United whose Plan benefits were taken, in whole or in part, by United to offset a purported debt owed to a separate Plan, during the time beginning six years prior to the filing date of this action to final judgment.
STATUS OF THE LITIGATION
The case is currently before the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota (Scott, et al. v. UnitedHealth Group, Inc., et al., Case No. 0:20-cv-01570). Plaintiffs filed the original complaint on July 14, 2020 and the amended complaint on October 23, 2020.