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Life Health > Health Insurance > Health Insurance

New York acts on eating disorder parity case

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(Bloomberg) — Health insurer Cigna Corp. (NYSE:CI) has reached a settlement with the state of New York over allegations that it unlawfully denied its members treatment for eating disorders.

The insurer settled civil claims that it denied hundreds of requests by insureds for nutrition counseling, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said today. Under New York’s mental health coverage parity law, insurers must provide coverage of mental illnesses that is at least equal to coverage for other conditions, he said.

“State law clearly requires health insurance companies to provide mental health benefits on par with other medical benefits,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “There is no gray area here.”

As part of his claim, Schneiderman said the insurer limited nutrition counseling for patients with behavioral conditions while not imposing similar constraints for patients with diabetes.

Cigna agreed to eliminate a three-visit cap for nutritional counseling and to pay $33,000 in previous claims it had denied, according to the statement. Cigna will also pay a $23,000 civil penalty. 

“Cigna appreciates the opportunity to work with the attorney general’s office on this issue and is now implementing the provisions of the settlement,” the company said in its statement. “Cigna has cooperated with the attorney general’s office during the course of its inquiry and will also communicate with our affected customers. Cigna regrets any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused our customers.”

The company noted that it did not admit or deny the attorney general’s findings in this matter.

Allison Bell contributed to this article.

–Editors: David Glovin, Stephen Farr

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