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UnitedHealth Group thought it was a great idea at the time: offer no-cost primary and behavioral care, in the hope that the company would bring in enough money through claims, while also building a loyal customer base. Detractors may say it was a nonstarter, or that the notion had merit but was poorly designed; some may even point the finger at the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare). Either way, the company is shutting down Harken Health, the subsidiary under which it ran the program, after a little over a year in business. Harken had about 26,000 enrollees in Illinois at the end of 2016, when it stopped offering plans on the ACA exchanges and continued selling only off-exchange products. Harken was widely viewed as a test of what its founder called relationship-based primary care. It will continue to cover and provide care for individual-market enrollees through the end of 2017, and will serve employer group members through the end of its contracts, the company said in a statement.

‘Relationship-Based Primary Care’ Experiment Closes Up Shop