Managed Care: Industry news briefs

• Computer troubles delay UBH electronic pay plan:

UnitedHealth Groups's bid to move toward electronic payments for providers has hit a computer glitch. According to the May issue of the company's own publication, Networkbulletin, UnitedHealth began sending letters to providers indicating that the change was imminent. The newsletter also included instructions for signing up for online payments via the company's provider Web site,

The company is calling it, “The new preferred standard for delivery of payments and statements.”

But Jean Thoensen, of PsychBiller—a billing service for mental health professionals—says providers are unable to sign up, even though enrollment forms have been sent out by United Behavioral Health. That, according to Thoensen, is because the financial institution responsible for handling the payments —Exante Bank—says the program's not ready to go.

“Exante strongly recommends that behavioral health providers should not sign up at this time,” Thoensen says. The problem is that UnitedHealth is still struggling with transitioning from an old computer system that can't process the payments.

“UnitedHealth has been working for well over a year to move those claims to their main computer system,”says Thoensen. “It will be at least 2007 before the migration is complete.”

You can contact Jean Thoensen at PsychBiller, P.O Box 2029, Centreville, VA 20122-2029, (703) 266-8612.