U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero, Northern District of California “There is an excessive emphasis onaddressing acute symptoms and stabilizing crises while ignoring theeffective treatment of members' underlying conditions,” wrote U.S.Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero. (Photo: Jason Doiy/ALM)

A federal judge in San Francisco has found that an affiliate ofUnitedHealthcare, the nation's largest healthinsurer, breached its fiduciary duty to policyholders by followingguidelines that emphasized cost-savings and addressing acuteproblems rather than treating underlying mental health andsubstance abuse issues.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero of the Northern District ofCalifornia issued a 106-page ruling Tuesday finding that theguidelines that United Behavioral Health used when makingcoverage decisions in cases of mental illness and substance abusedidn't provide for generally accepted standards of care outlined inthe plaintiffs' policies.

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Ross Todd

Ross Todd is the Editor/columnist for the Am Law Litigation Daily. He writes about litigation of all sorts. Previously, Ross was the Bureau Chief of The Recorder, ALM's California affiliate. Contact Ross at [email protected]. On Twitter: @Ross_Todd.