UnitedHealth’s Lab Test Registry Implementation Delayed Again

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ANOTHER DELAY WAS ANNOUNCED FOR IMPLEMENTATION of UnitedHealthcare’s Laboratory Test Registry Protocol, which requires clinical laboratories to register each of their tests with the health insurer. This latest delay likely is the result of operational issues on behalf of the managed care company and does not spell an end to the test registry altogether.

“It’s probably technical issues on their end, but it is coming,” stated Mick Raich, President of RCM Consulting. Raich is the former President of Vachette Pathology, which was recently acquired by Lighthouse Lab Services of Charlotte, N.C. “I don’t expect the delay to last,” he added.

UnitedHealthcare (UHC) announced the delay on July 1, noting that the delay only applies to non-genetic tests. The Lab Test Registry is still in effect for genetic and molecular tests. UHC announced earlier this year that its lab test registry would replace the test registry used by BeaconLBS (a company owned by Labcorp) and that it would take over prior authorizations for genetic and molecular tests from BeaconLBS. 

The test registry for non-genetic testing was originally scheduled to take effect on Oct. 1, 2021. That date was pushed back to Jan. 1, 2022. UHC’s policy requires in-network, freestanding, and outpatient hospital laboratories to include the laboratory’s unique test code on claims for most laboratory test services. Each test code submitted on a claim must match a corresponding laboratory test registration provided in advance to UHC, or the claim will be denied.

As defined by UHC, a laboratory test code is the laboratory’s unique identifier used by a physician to order a test. UHC has not specified which values or coding method labs should use to uniquely identify tests. Clinical laboratories may use their own test codes if those codes are registered with UHC.

Jim O’Neill, Vice President for sales for the clinical laboratory division at Advanced Data System Corporation (ADSC), a revenue cycle management company based in Paramus, N.J., agrees with Raich that, while the lab test registry may be delayed, it is not dead.

Reasons for the Delay 

“Due to COVID-19 and the number of new laboratories that have entered the market, UnitedHealthcare may not have the proper resources to ensure all the U.S.-based laboratories would be set up properly,” O’Neill commented, adding that ADSC is making its clients aware of UHC’s Laboratory Test Registry Protocol and is prepared to assist with portal questions and file downloads when needed.

Currently, UHC already requires clinical laboratories to register genetic and molecular lab tests of single genes, multi-gene panels, and other molecular tests using genetic-based methodologies, such as gene expression profiles of tumors or multiplex PCR assays of pathogens.

In addition to registering genetic and molecular tests, UHC also recommends that every test also includes a Genetic Testing Registry (GTR) ID.

Contact Mick Raich, 517-403-0763 or mraich@vachettepathology.com; Jim O’Neill, 609-517-6242 or jim.o@adsc.com.

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