Doctors Seek Financial Aid After UnitedHealth Cyberattack Spurs $1.6B Loss

In early March, Dr. Angeli Maun Akey, a doctor in Gainesville, Florida, found out that her practice was missing $19,000. She first thought someone might have stolen the money, but it turned out to be a cyberattack on Change Healthcare, a company that helps with payments and other services for doctors.

This cyberattack, which was discovered on February 21, caused big problems for the healthcare system in the U.S. It stopped many doctors, including Dr. Akey, from getting paid for a while.

UnitedHealth Group, the company that owns Change Healthcare, said in a report to the SEC that they found the cyberattack and isolated the affected systems right away. They later said the attack might end up costing them $1.6 billion for the year. Because of this, their stock went down by nearly 8% since the beginning of the year.

Financial Problems for Healthcare Providers

The cyberattack caused big financial problems for healthcare providers. Dr. Akey saw her cash flow drop by more than 80% for six weeks, leaving her with over $130,000 in insurance claims that weren’t paid.

Dr. Akey’s practice suffered an 80% cash flow drop, accumulating $130,000 in unpaid claims. (Credits: North Florida Integrative Medicine)

To make sure her staff got paid, Dr. Akey stopped taking her salary and asked her community for help, getting advances from patients who volunteered.

Dr. Barbara McAneny’s practice in New Mexico also faced money troubles, with no cash coming in and over $6 million in unpaid claims for chemotherapy treatments. Both practices, along with others, had to figure out how to keep running and taking care of patients while not knowing when they’d get paid.

UnitedHealth Group tried to help providers hit by the cyberattack. They set up a program to give providers interest-free loans that they didn’t have to pay back for 45 days after they could start getting paid again.

Lawmakers debating the implications of cyberattacks, calling for regulatory review and better cybersecurity standards. (Credits: iStock)

But even with this help, some providers, like Dr. Akey and therapist Sarah Carlson in Boulder, Colorado, found it hard to get or not enough. UnitedHealth Group says they’ve given out over $6.5 billion to help, and they’re working to get things back to normal. The cyberattack made people wonder if UnitedHealth Group is too big and risky.

Lawmakers and others are talking about what this means for the healthcare system’s safety and security. UnitedHealth’s CEO says being big helped them deal with the attack, but some people want the government to check if they’re following the rules, like selling stock before telling the public about an investigation.

Nobody knows yet how this attack will affect healthcare providers and patients in the long run. People are talking about making better rules for online safety and having more ways to protect against big problems like this.

Michael Manua
Michael Manua
Michael, a seasoned market news expert with 29 years of experience, offers unparalleled insights into financial markets. At 61, he has a track record of providing accurate, impactful analyses, making him a trusted voice in financial journalism.
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