How offsetting upfront costs may help reduce financial barriers to care

At a time when everything seems to cost a little more, it may be difficult to feel confident seeking out health services — especially if you don’t know the cost beforehand.

For many people, cost is a top factor for whether they will get care in the first place. In fact, last year 1 in 4 adults said they skipped or postponed health care services they needed because of the cost. Another 1 in 5 adults say they did not fill a prescription they needed for the same reason.

People who feel they must forgo essential health care services run the risk of even poorer health outcomes that can exacerbate chronic conditions — and drive increased medical costs.  

Solutions that help offset or remove initial payments, such as copays or deductibles, for health care may help reduce these financial barriers.

At UnitedHealthcare, there are a number of efforts focused on consumer affordability through innovative health plan designs, plus programs that offset upfront costs or provide financial incentives to help people pay for medical care. 

Care Cash®

This solution features a preloaded debit card that helps eligible members cover cost-sharing for certain UnitedHealthcare network health care expenses, helping encourage people to opt for quality, high-value care providers and facilities. Care Cash®, which comes loaded with $200 for individuals or $500 for family plans1, is now available nationwide as a buyup option for employers.

Members can use the debit card to offset their deductible to cover expenses for:

  • Primary care provider visits
  • UnitedHealth Premium® Care specialist provider visits
  • Outpatient behavioral health care visits
  • Urgent care visits
  • 24/7 virtual visits
  • Lab providers

Surest™ health plan

This UnitedHealthcare health plan is designed to simplify care with upfront pricing, no deductible to chip away at and no coinsurance to worry about paying later. The Surest plan uses variable copays that are generally lower for care providers and facilities with the optimal set of attributes, including based on quality, efficiency and effectiveness measures. Members can review and consider their options before deciding on care. In its latest impact study, Surest member data showed the plan led to an increase in preventive care, including more frequent access to wellness visits, mammograms and screenings for colon cancer. 

Virtual care

Telehealth may help make access to care more convenient and affordable, especially for people with busy schedules or people in remote locations. To make these appointments even more affordable, a growing number of UnitedHealthcare members have access to 24/7 Virtual Visits with no cost sharing through at least the end of 2024, effectively waiving any deductibles or copays.2 

UHC Rewards

UnitedHealthcare Rewards offers eligible members the opportunity to earn hundreds of dollars3 each year in incentives for completing certain daily or one-time program goals, including walking 5,000 steps or more each day, tracking sleep and completing an annual wellness exam, biometric screening or flu shot. The consumer engagement program enables members to use their rewards in a variety of ways, such as a pre-paid debit card or rewards getting deposited into a health saving account/health reimbursement account for members who want help covering out-of-pocket medical costs.4

For people interested in getting an Apple Watch, UHC Rewards members can now pay as little as $0 out of pocket and then use rewards for completing program goals to pay toward the price of the device.5      

"Our goals with these consumer engagement and cost-saving programs are two-fold: Make access to quality care more affordable while enhancing consumer satisfaction," said Kelley Nolan-Maccione, chief product officer for the UnitedHealthcare commercial business. “We know consumers want a seamless and integrated care experience, with benefits that help connect them to quality health professionals and that offer value right from the start.”

By helping cover the cost of care before receiving medical services, these programs may help reduce financial barriers to better health. These type of solutions can help move the needle on improving member satisfaction and creating higher quality experiences across the health care spectrum.

Care Cash Experience

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