Our response to COVID-19
Actions we're taking as a company
The health of our members and the safety of those who deliver care are our top priorities. Over the course of the pandemic, we have taken a wide range of actions to ease the impact on the people we serve and on the health care system overall.
Supporting COVID-19 vaccination
Everyone who gets the vaccine — if they can and as it becomes available to them — will play a part in helping to end the pandemic and get us back to safely doing the things we enjoy and seeing the people we care about. Our COVID-19 vaccination program is focused on removing barriers to vaccination and supporting equitable access, helping guide people to vaccination providers near them through our vaccine resource finder.
Timely communication, access to helpful resources and insights-driven actions are at the center of our vaccination education and encouragement program. We believe that starts with connecting with members by leveraging the right messages and the right messengers.
- More than 38 million communications have been sent to eligible members to support vaccine education, encouragement and adherence, as of August 2021. Messages are insights-driven and tested with consumers, ultimately optimized to focus on $0 cost-share through the national public health emergency period, vaccine safety and vaccine effectiveness.
- Local partnerships and vaccination events are also critical to reaching the right people. Early on we partnered with the National Hispanic Council on Aging, Black Coalition Against COVID-19 and National Councils on Developmental Disabilities to help enable the right messengers in local communities. We also work closely with federally qualified health systems and other local health organizations to host vaccination events and encourage vaccination.
Our navigation support program provides a dedicated advocate who helps guide high risk, isolated members to the support they need. These members can help get medications, supplies, food and care, as well as discuss other available support services such as:
- Appointment scheduling for more than 9.5K Medicare and Medicaid members, with a focus on members with higher social vulnerability
- Appointment transportation support for Medicare and Medicaid members, including their transportation benefits, to access community-based transportation and a Lyft pilot partnership
Health care professionals are on the front-line of vaccination encouragement, and we’ve worked to support them by compiling resources for both them and their patient.
- Arming patients with science-based education is a critical part of what providers are being asked to do. To make this easier on them, we pulled together patient educational materials. We’ve also built unbranded communications to remove any health insurance bias in the eyes of those we serve.
- Developing educational materials on building vaccine confidence specifically for UnitedHealthcare providers and clinicians. This includes a self-paced course on understanding vaccination hesitancy and tools to aid in conversations with unsure patients.
To help members navigate life once they are fully vaccinated, UnitedHealthcare created a secure, digital COVID-19 vaccination record. The record puts the member’s vaccination information at their fingertips, ready to be printed or shared. The UnitedHealthcare COVID-19 vaccination record is housed on the member’s vaccination record page within their online UnitedHealthcare member account.
UnitedHealthcare is working in partnership with community-based organizations with urgency to serve the needs of underserved communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, urging them to get vaccinated for COVID-19, as soon as they can.
- STOP COVID helps expand access to health and social services, including COVID-19 testing, health and safety kits, food boxes and more. Through this program, we are also expanding access to vaccines through local events.
- The Vaccine Community Connectors pilot aims to help enable the vaccination of 2 million seniors age 65+ in America’s most at-risk and underserved communities. The initiative focuses on answering questions about the vaccine and providing scheduling and transportation support.
Helping members access care and health information
At UnitedHealthcare, we are committed to helping members manage their health, understand what's covered in their benefits and get access to the care they need. As the situation with COVID-19 continues to change, we are committed to helping members stay informed.
- On UHC.com, we are providing COVID-19 information that supports our members and their families. From talking to children about COVID-19 to how to access care and understand changes in benefits, members can expect ongoing updates to help them stay informed.
- On UHCprovider.com, we are committed to providing the latest information for health care professionals. From provider policy changes and telehealth access to credentialing, coding and administrative policies, health care professionals can turn to this resource for support with patient care.
We developed and deployed digital tools, including a symptom checker, to provide the most up-to-date information about care, coverage and support needed to rapidly assess symptoms, schedule telehealth visits or even talk to a nurse.
We believe testing for COVID-19 is important to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Our COVID-19 testing locator was one of the first available to help everyone find a testing site near them. As always, we encourage members to talk to their health care provider if they think they may need testing.
Members have access to their health plan account, where COVID-19 coverage details, resources and access to care are readily available. This personalized digital care platform provides up-to-date information about prevention, coverage, access to care and support that may be needed such as a 24/7 telehealth visit with their provider, talking to a nurse, refilling or scheduling home delivery for prescriptions, and accessing emotional support care 24 hours a day.
Testing for COVID-19 is important to slowing the spread of COVID-19. We encourage you and your health care provider to use FDA-authorized tests. There are 2 types of COVID-19 tests:
- Diagnostic tests determine if you are currently infected with COVID-19. There are 2 types of these viral diagnostic tests: nucleic acid amplification and antigen tests.
- Antibody tests, also known as serology tests, may determine if you might have been infected with the virus. According to the FDA, antibody tests should not be used to diagnose a current infection.
Medically-appropriate COVID-19 tests have $0 cost-share during the national public health emergency period, currently scheduled to end Jan. 15, 2022. Medically-appropriate COVID-19 tests must be FDA-authorized or approved, and be ordered or reviewed by a health care professional to either 1) diagnose if the virus is present in a person due to symptoms or potential exposure, or 2) help in the treatment of the virus for a person. This coverage applies to in-network and out-of-of-network tests for Medicare Advantage, Exchange, Individual and Employer-sponsored health plans. For individuals enrolled in UnitedHealthcare Community Plans, state variations and regulations may apply during this time.
UnitedHealthcare health plans generally do not cover COVID-19 surveillance testing, which is testing used for public health or social purposes such as employment (return to workplace), education, travel, or entertainment. And like other over-the-counter health products, COVID-19 tests purchased over-the-counter—without a prescription or doctor’s involvement through a clinical lab—are generally not covered by your benefits plan. You will be responsible for any cost, and may use your health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA) or health reimbursement account (HRA). If your doctor or other health care professional provides a prescription or order for the over-the-counter COVID-19 test as part of clinical care, you may submit a claim for reimbursement with both the prescription and detailed receipt to UnitedHealthcare. State variations and regulations may apply.
If you think you might have COVID-19 or may have been exposed to the virus, talk to your network health care provider. If you have questions about your benefits plan, call the phone number on your UnitedHealthcare member ID card.
- Expanded virtual care access so people could get care outside of the doctor’s office
- Offered a special enrollment period to allow individuals employed by our commercial customers who previously declined health benefit coverage to elect health coverage following onset of the pandemic
- Supported members in home isolation through a navigation support program
- Offered support for high-risk Medicare and Medicaid members with a home-based management platform
- Offered access to early prescription refills
- Expanded assistance for socially isolated members, coordinating access to medications, supplies, food, care and support programs;
- Provided access to our mental health mobile app and 24/7 emotional support phone lines to help all Americans – not just UnitedHealthcare members – to cope with the mental health impacts of the pandemic
- Provided more than $100 million in support to individuals particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 such as health care workers, people living in hot spots, seniors, and individuals experiencing homelessness and food insecurity
Actions to support health care professionals and our network
Health care professionals are on the front-line serving our members and their communities. We’re working to help ease their burden by helping improve access to care, decrease their administrative processes and help address the financial pressure that may be caused by the national public health emergency.
Throughout the pandemic we have monitored infection rates and hospitalizations and have taken action to support providers in the hardest hit areas. For example, in these areas we have:
- Reduced requirements, such as prior authorization, to help eliminate provider administrative requirements;
- Delayed or waived medical management program requirements, such as discharge planning, and other initiatives so doctors can focus on providing care.
UnitedHealth Group, the parent company of UnitedHealthcare, announced steps to accelerate nearly $2 billion in payments and other financial support to providers in 2020. This included accelerated claim payments to medical and behavioral care providers in UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and Individual and Group Market fully insured health plans.
Early actions we took to support providers and other health care professionals during the early onset of the pandemic included:
- Extended timely filing and reduced certain priority authorization requirements
- Provided guidance on telehealth claim submissions, given how new many providers were adopting this type of care
- Helped with patient discharges to settings for lower levels of care during the national public health emergency period
See how UnitedHealthcare is helping in local communities
Delivering on our mission
Our mission — to help people live healthier lives and to help make the health system work better for everyone — guides the work we do each day and is central to the actions we’re taking to help people through COVID-19.
Supporting our members and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic
We’re committed to keeping you up to date on COVID-19. We're taking note of your questions and working hard to provide answers.
This overview describes benefits we offer to all members in all states. They also include federal requirements. More benefits may be available in some states and under some plans. We have created rules and practices that may apply to some of our products at this time. The information is a summary and is subject to change. For more information, contact your account representative or call the number on your member ID card.
The information is a summary and is subject to change. Employer-sponsored plans are also known as UnitedHealthcare Group Market plans. This page describes benefits we offer to all members in all states. They also include federal requirements. More benefits may be available in some states and under some plans. We have created rules and practices that may apply to some of our products at this time. The information is a summary and is subject to change. For more information, contact your account representative or call the number on your UnitedHealthcare card.