UnitedHealthcare Expands Coverage Options for Telehealth Visits

May 7, 2015
Health insurer UnitedHealthcare has announced that it is expanding coverage options for virtual physician visits.

Health insurer UnitedHealthcare has announced that it is expanding coverage options for virtual physician visits.

The expanded coverage will give people enrolled in self-funded employer health plans secure, online access to a physician via mobile phone, tablet or computer 24 hours a day, UnitedHealthcare officials say. A new network of care providers offering video-based virtual visits enables UnitedHealthcare plan participants across the country to choose from in-network virtual care provider groups, then see and speak with a doctor using real-time audio and video technology to obtain a diagnosis and any necessary prescriptions for minor medical needs including allergies, sinus and bladder infections, bronchitis and other conditions. 

Coverage for virtual care provider visits is now available to self-funded employer customers and will expand to UnitedHealthcare employer-sponsored and individual plan participants in 2016, giving more people expanded in-network care options, the company announced. To make this happen, UnitedHealthcare is partnering with Doctor On Demand, Optum’s NowClinic and American Well’s Amwell to provide video-based virtual visits in 47 states and Washington, D.C.

More than 10 million consumers directly benefited from using telemedicine last year, according to the American Telemedicine Association, and a recent Harris Poll survey found that more than a quarter of consumers (27 percent) would choose a telehealth visit if the option was available to them.

People can access a list of participating virtual-visit care providers through UnitedHealthcare’s Health4Me mobile app. From the “Find and Price Care” page, Health4Me users can review the in-network provider groups and the cost of a virtual visit with each contracted provider group. From there, users can connect directly to the provider group of their choice.

The cost of a video-based virtual visit is less than $50 and provides significant savings when compared to costs for similar minor medical needs treated at a doctor’s office ($80), urgent care facility ($160) or emergency room ($650). UnitedHealthcare plan participants pay a portion of the cost for the virtual visit, subject to deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket expenses based on their specific benefit plan, officials say. 

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