UnitedHealthcare axes paper prior authorization, decision letters

UnitedHealth Group is beginning to act on its November promise to shore up its sustainability efforts by halting its mailing paper of prior authorization and clinical decisions to providers, according to a Feb. 25 post on the California Medical Association website. 

The first move — a nationwide shift to digital clinical decision letters — is effective March 4 for most UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage and commercial plan members. Instead of receiving a mail appeal decision, providers can view the decisions digitally immediately after they are made. 

According to the announcement, more UnitedHealthcare communications will make the shift to digital during 2022. The payer will issue warnings for each document moving to virtual distribution 90 days in advance. 

Providers in 11 western states will also stop receiving paper prior authorization decisions effective April 1.  

UnitedHealth Group pledged to increase its commitment to sustainability in late 2021, which included a 2035 deadline to be carbon neutral. The road map also includes plans to shift to digital documents instead of mailing physical ones. 

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