Covid-19 caught the world unaware. No country or organization was prepared for a pandemic of this scale. Fighting a novel virus called for a far-reaching and coordinated response from all quarters, including government, healthcare organizations, and the public. Healthcare insurers led from the front and rolled out quick solutions to facilitate smooth treatment of the infected and contain the virus spread.
Among the prompt actions taken by some of the top payers include:
No-cost testing and treatment
Prior authorization waiver
Encouraging and expanding telehealth services
Strengthening providers’ capacity through various partnerships
Delivering support to the vulnerable population
Serving the frontline
Help in strengthening the national response
DistilINFO takes a ringside view of various measures offered by the top five players to defend the unexpected and grave challenges posed by the virus onslaught. In the first piece of the five-part series, we are covering measures taken by UnitedHealthcare.
From cost-sharing for testing, treatment, and telehealth to forging a partnership with Microsoft to ensure safer returns of employees to work and extending support, UnitedHealthcare rose to the occasion.
Initiative to revive WFO culture
UnitedHealth Group and Microsoft Corp. have joined forces to launch ProtectWell, an innovative return-to-workplace protocol that enables employers to bring employees back to work in a safer environment. ProtectWell helps employees determine they are safe to go to work, co-workers know their colleagues have been screened, and employers feel confident that their workplace is ready to do business.
ProtectWell incorporates Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and the latest clinical research to limit the spread of COVID-19 by screening employees for symptoms and establishing guidelines to support the health and safety of the workforce and workplace.
ProtectWell combines UnitedHealth Group’s clinical and data analytics capabilities with Microsoft’s technology leadership to help in the next phases of COVID-19 recovery efforts.
$1.5 billion customer support program
Applying credits to premium billings received by June for people served by UnitedHealthcare commercial fully insured benefits. The credits will range from 5% to 20%.
All specialist and primary care physician cost-sharing was waived through the end of September for people served by UnitedHealthcare under Medicare Advantage plans.
Providing both new and renewal premium price stability and support for people served by UnitedHealthcare AARP Medicare Supplement policies.
Accelerating funds to state partners and critical care providers to serve more people and expanding its Housing+Health and homeless support programs, providing shelf-stable food and baby formula for people served by UnitedHealthcare Medicaid plan.
As part of Medicaid plans, UnitedHealthcare Group is donating $5 million to support a federally sponsored program seeking to accelerate and expand the availability of investigational convalescent plasma treatments for COVID-19 patients nationwide. The initiative, led by Mayo Clinic, coordinates efforts to collect blood plasma from donors who have recovered from COVID-19 and distribute the plasma to hospitalized patients with severe or life-threatening COVID-19 infections.
It has been asked to assist the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in distributing, as directed by the Department, an initial $30 billion in emergency funding to health care providers seeking assistance under the CARES Act.
The group’s move to accelerate claim payments to medical and behavioral care providers applies to UnitedHealthcare’s fully insured commercial, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid businesses. Other financial support currently includes the provision for up to $125 million in small business loans to clinical operators with whom OptumHealth is partnered.
The other measures include, UnitedHealthcare is waiving costs for COVID-19 testing provided at approved locations in accordance with the CDC guidelines, as well as waiving copays, coinsurance, and deductibles for visits associated with COVID-19 testing, whether the care is received in a physician’s office, an urgent care center or an emergency department. This coverage applies to Medicare Advantage and Medicaid members as well as commercial members.
United is also expanding provider telehealth access and waiving member cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing-related visits. UnitedHealthcare waived all cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing-related visits, testing, and treatment, as well as telehealth coverage for COVID-19 related services, through October 22, 2020, according to the AHIP report.