5 health plan features to look for during open enrollment

During open enrollment season for health benefits, you may be focused on selecting major medical coverage to help improve access to care and for financial protection, in case you experience a health issue, illness or accident.

While those are valuable aspects of having a health plan, it is also important to be aware of the additional benefits that might be available to select during the enrollment process, such as vision, dental or hearing coverage. Plus, some health plans may feature other programs designed to improve your well-being and help you maximize the value of your benefits.

Here are five things to look for as you make benefits decisions for 2024

1. Reward programs

A growing number of health plans are featuring programs designed to encourage members to adopt healthier habits and access preventative care, offering the opportunity to earn real dollars that can be used to save on health care costs or spent in other ways. For instance, your health plan may offer access to a consumer engagement program that leverages wearable devices and smartphones to simplify how members earn rewards for adopting healthier habits. Eligible members may be able to earn rewards for completing various daily or one-time health goals and can redeem the incentives for an array of options, including to help pay for out-of-pocket medical costs or to cover the monthly cost of a digital fitness app subscription.

In some UnitedHealthcare plans, eligible members, including covered spouses, can use wearable devices to earn $300 – or as much as $1,000 – each year by completing various daily health goals or one-time activities1. Programs such as UnitedHealthcare Rewards offer numerous ways for eligible members to earn and redeem financial incentives, including an option that enables participants to upfront pay $0 for Apple Watch2 and then use program rewards to pay toward the price of the device.

Other redemption options enable members to receive a pre-paid debit card, have rewards deposited into a health savings account (HSA) to help cover out-of-pocket medical expenses, or to help pay for monthly gym membership or digital fitness subscription fees3.

2. Treatment of low back pain

Back pain is one of the most common reasons people see a doctor or miss days at work. The American College of Physicians (ACP) recommends nonpharmacologic therapies as the first treatment. If the problem persists, the ACP advises nonsurgical options, such as exercise, physical therapy, chiropractic care.

For support, some UnitedHealthcare members with low back pain may have access to a self-paced program that uses the Kaia Health app help guide eligible members through exercises designed to safely improve strength and mobility4. Motion coaching for exercises, mind-body relaxation techniques and educational videos are all included.

3. Vision protection and improvement

Our digital world has many people logging many hours in front of screens, resulting in increased exposure to blue light. This excess screen time may contribute to digital eye strain, which includes symptoms such as dry eyes and headaches.

To help reduce excessive exposure to blue light, eligible UnitedHealthcare Vision members may have access to discounts of up to 20% on Eyesafe® blue-light-filtering screen protectors for smartphones, tablets and laptop computers. They may also be able to save on laptops with embedded blue-light filtering technology.

Your vision benefits may also include support for correcting your eyesight, with UnitedHealthcare Vision members having access to the nation’s largest commercial vision network with more than 160,000 access points5. For example, you may be eligible for a member discount for LASIK, a surgery that uses a laser to permanently change the shape of the cornea to improve vision.

4. Dental care for teeth straightening

Leaving crooked teeth untreated might not only affect your willingness to smile but may also lead to problems like tooth decay and gum disease. Funds from health savings account or a flexible spending account can be used to address dental issues, including misaligned teeth.

One option may be home-delivered clear aligners for improving your smile. Some dental plans with orthodontic coverage help connect members to a licensed dentist and reimburse qualifying costs for personalized clear teeth aligners.

5. Help with hearing aids

A growing number of people are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss due to exposure to loud sounds. Research by Johns Hopkins has found the health of your hearing may impact your likelihood of developing other conditions, such as dementia and depression. Nearly 29 million adults in the U.S. with hearing loss could benefit from hearing aids, according to the National Institutes of Health.

With some employer-sponsored or Medicare Advantage plans, you may have coverage for an annual hearing assessment and custom-programmed prescription hearing aids which can result in significant savings6. Some plans may also include coverage for new over-the-counter hearing aids for individuals with self-diagnosed mild-to-moderate hearing loss interested in a more do-it-yourself experience.

For more ideas on features that may be in your health plan options, check out this quick video:

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