Our COVID-19 response in New York

We know that these are extraordinarily challenging times for health care providers, our health care system and all Americans. We recognize that thousands of doctors and nurses in New York continue to provide essential health care on the front lines of the pandemic.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in this country, UnitedHealth Group has been focused on serving and supporting our members, employees, communities and care providers in our network. We have taken a number of steps to ensure our members can access the care they need and to help alleviate the pressures facing care providers.

Serving our customers, members and patients

  • Provided $1.5 billion in direct customer and consumer support through premium credits, cost-sharing waivers and other efforts across the country, including $87.7 million in premium relief in New York.

  • Accelerated nearly $2 billion of payments to care providers nationwide, including $225 million in New York, to provide needed liquidity for the health system.

  • Waived all cost sharing for COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment and removed all COVID-19 prior authorizations. Total waived cost share amounts are over $20 million for New York commercial fully insured members.

  • Expanded telehealth offerings in New York and nationwide.

  • Opened a special enrollment period for New York commercial customers.

  • Expanded assistance for socially isolated New Yorkers, coordinating access to medications, supplies, food, care and support programs.

  • Provided early refills, prolonged authorizations and increased home delivery options of medication to ensure no shortages, extended hours at our behavioral health pharmacies to ensure medication adherence for those with mental health and substance use disorders.

  • Provided over $2 million in targeted investments to 30 New York community health centers to expand or build capacity to assist patients during COVID-19.

  • Distributed over 30,000 face masks (PPE) in New York to community health centers and other community based partners.

  • OptumCare quickly expanded telehealth visits in late March and provided more than 120,000 telehealth visits to New Yorkers in four months.

  • Opened free access to Sanvello, our mental health mobile app, and 24/7 emotional support phone lines to help people cope with mental health impacts caused by the pandemic. New York-based mental health professionals were provided with a free Sanvello Clinician Dashboard to support COVID-19 response.

  • Offered a new service from UnitedHealth Group’s Orthology Inc. to provide New Yorkers with free virtual physical therapy services from home, including care guidance, important information about musculoskeletal pain and, if needed, a referral to a high-quality local healthcare provider.

  • Deployed triage tools, including an interactive COVID-19 symptom checker and testing site locator with next best action recommendations for our highest risk members. The tools provide the most up-to-date information about prevention, coverage, care and support needed to rapidly assess symptoms, schedule telehealth visits, talk with a nurse, refill or schedule home delivery for prescriptions and access emotional support 24 hours a day.

Supporting communities in need

  • Donated testing vehicles to support mobile COVID-19 testing efforts in neighborhoods in need in Buffalo, NY.
  • Awarded a total of $1 million — $500,000 to Food Bank for New York City and $500,000 to Care for the Homeless—to provide urgent assistance to New York residents experiencing homelessness and food insecurity because of the pandemic.
  • Contributed $1.3 million in Empowering Health grants to 14 community-based organizations in the state of New York to expand access to care and address social determinants that affect the health of people in underserved communities. Grant recipients in New York include:
    • $400,000 to Central Nassau Guidance and Counseling to help supply care for the county’s homeless and indigent populations;
    • $300,000 to Power of Two in South Bronx to assist in parent coaching intervention to improve parental sensitivity and children’s attachment to primary caregivers;
    • $150,000 to Lifespan of Greater Rochester to support older adult care including social isolation and loneliness;
    • And more than $450,000 for local organizations to help with food insecurity, children’s health, veterans’ care, and women’s health in communities across New York including: Syracuse, Washington County, Onondaga County, Rochester, Buffalo, West Islip, Long Island, the Bronx, and Washington Heights.

We have tremendous respect for the care that Montefiore’s physicians are providing to COVID patients, but we also have an obligation to help make health care more affordable for the customers and members we serve. With millions of Americans and employers facing extreme financial challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, our responsibility to ensure that our members have access to health care that is both high quality and affordable is more important than ever. Accepting Montefiore’s demands for a 30% price hike simply isn’t sustainable given the financial strain that so many of our members and customers are facing. Bringing down the cost of health care can’t wait for the pandemic to be over, especially when that care is provided by health systems like Montefiore that are already the most expensive in the markets where they operate.