Editor’s note: For specific coverage relating to hearing aids and/or hearing care, please see the $0 copays and Vision and Hearing sections below.

UnitedHealthcare announced the launch of its 2021 Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans, showcasing “affordable coverage, exclusive benefits, expanded plan access, and a simplified member experience that connects people to quality care— when and where they need it.”

“It is more important than ever during times like these to provide stability and peace of mind for people when it comes to their care and coverage,” said Tim Noel, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement. “We have listened intently to our members, and to deliver on the stable, comprehensive coverage they expect and deserve, we are committed to delivering Medicare plans with more: more $0 and low-premium plans and $0 copays; more benefits and access to care—all adding up to more value for the people we serve.”

Related article: UnitedHealthcare Launches Hearing Website, UnitedHealthcare Hearing

Currently, more than 6.5 million peopleii are enrolled in UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans. In 2021, the company will expand its service area to reach nearly 3.2 million additional people in nearly 300 counties—the company’s largest footprint expansion in five years.

Highlights of UnitedHealthcare’s 2021 Medicare Advantage plans include:

More Access to Care from Anywhere to Bring Peace of Mind

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a watershed moment that is profoundly altering the healthcare landscape. At-home health care went from being a convenient care option to, at times, the only option for many people,” said Noel. “And while COVID-19 changed so much for so many of us, it did not change UnitedHealthcare’s unwavering commitment to helping people access the care they need, whether in a clinical setting or at home.”

Offerings that help enable more access to care include:

  • Telehealth Visits: All plans will offer telehealth visits with a $0 copay. 
  • Medicare National Network: The nation’s largest Medicare Advantage networkiii will be available across more plans, including many HMO plans. Whether at home or traveling, members pay network costs when they see any of the more than 850,000 network care providers.
  • HouseCalls: Most plans will include HouseCalls, a program that offers people a yearly visit with a licensed clinician from the comfort of home, helping to coordinate needed care—including with an individual’s primary care provider; conducting health screenings and providing education on the management of chronic conditions. The company expects to complete nearly 1.7 million HouseCalls for its members in 2020.
  • Tailored support: To provide a more personal and simpler member experience, UnitedHealthcare is rolling out a market-aligned Advocate4Me service model that empowers advocates’ expertise within their designated regions. This includes increased knowledge of the market, available plans, network, and product offerings—helping to drive more tailored support, reduce transfer rates, and improve satisfaction.
  • Navigate4Me: For people in UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans who have complex health care needs, such as those facing an acute health event like a surgery or cancer treatment, those managing a chronic illness like COPD or diabetes, or those in Dual Special Needs Plans, Navigate4Me offers one-on-one support. A single point of contact helps to coordinate care, address claims issues, provide social support, and assist with other needs. For members impacted by COVID-19, this service also offers a helping hand to navigate safe quarantine, obtain medication and food when isolated, and access clinical care, if needed. One million people will have a dedicated UnitedHealthcare navigator by the end of 2020.

Simple, Affordable Products

“In listening to the people we serve, we know the key is affordable, predictable coverage that is easy to use and understand,” said Steve Warner, senior vice president of Medicare Advantage, UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement. “We purposefully design our products to meet consumers’ expectations around affordability and simplicity.”

Plans and product features that will help deliver cost savings and a simpler consumer experience in 2021 include:

  • Premiums: Nearly 2.5 million members will see $0 Medicare Advantage premiums in 2021, and almost all will see stable or reduced premiums. 
  • Medicare Advantage Patriot Plans: The UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Patriot plans are designed specifically with veterans in mind, as well as other individuals with existing drug coverage. These plans will provide broad access to care and benefits beyond Original Medicare like dental, vision, and fitness, and nearly all will have a $0 premium, and many will include a Part B premium rebate—up to $100 per month.
  • $0 Copays: Almost all plans will have $0 copays on the following: medical and behavioral telehealth visits; labs; routine vision, and hearing exams; colonoscopies and mammograms; and cardiac rehab. Additionally, nearly everyone in UnitedHealthcare’s coverage area will have access to a plan with $0 primary care copays.
  • Prescription Drug Affordability: Most plans include prescription drug coverage, and with the goals of cost savings, price predictability and transparency, UnitedHealthcare is offering a variety of ways for people to save.
  • Part D Senior Savings Model: The company will offer broad access to Medicare Advantage and Part D plans that limit monthly out-of-pocket costs to $35 for all covered insulin, helping people better predict their monthly expenses and amounting to projected average annual savings of nearly $450 for beneficiaries who take insulin.
  • $0 Drug Copays on Dual Special Needs Plans (D-SNP): In 2021, UnitedHealthcare will be removing copays on covered drugs on most D-SNP plans, giving people access to the prescription drugs they need at no out-of-pocket cost.
  • Lower Costs and More Generics Covered: Even more generic prescription drugs are covered with low to $0 copays, including tier 1 and tier 2.
  • Bonus Drug Coverage: To lower out-of-pocket costs and simplify the consumer experience, the majority of UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans will offer bonus drug coverage for common non-Medicare covered prescription drugs, including drugs for erectile dysfunction and commonly used prescription vitamins like vitamin D, folic acid, and vitamin B12.
  • Home Delivery: Most plans also offer $0 copays for tier 1 and tier 2 drugs ordered through the OptumRx home delivery pharmacy. 

Distinctive Offerings

“The breadth of UnitedHealth Group allows us to develop unique products with benefits that add real value to people’s lives—and their pocketbooks,” said Warner. “Our portfolio of plans offers something for everyone—from people seeking everyday wellness support, to those ready to ramp up their fitness routines, to those managing chronic conditions—and everyone in between.”

Extra benefits and features that help improve physical and financial well-being include:

  • Renew ActiveTM Fitness Program: The gold standard in Medicare fitness programs for body and mind will expand to 11 new states and D.C. in 2021iv, and will be available to people enrolled in most Medicare Advantage plans across 47 states and D.C. Renew Active provides access to an extensive, nationwide network of gyms and fitness locations—one of the largest of all Medicare fitness programsv. Renew Active also offers access to local wellness classes and events, and to support staying healthy from the convenience of home, offers access to thousands of workout videos and an online brain health program from AARP Staying Sharp.
  • Dental: The company offers the nation’s largest Medicare Advantage dental network iii , and a progressive benefit design offers expanded coverage with affordable access to comprehensive dental for most Medicare eligibles.
  • Vision and Hearing: All plans cover an annual eye exam, and most cover standard lenses in full, with access to a broad retail eyewear network and convenient home delivery options through Glasses USA as well as exclusive partner, Warby Parker. The majority of plans also offer a choice of discounted hearing aids.
  • Over-the-Counter (OTC) Products: Most plans will include a quarterly credit for a broad selection of common OTC products. People can order online, by phone or by mail for quick delivery to their door.
  • Healthy Food Benefit: Most D-SNP plans will offer a monthly credit, up to $660 annually, to buy fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, dairy, and more.
  • Renew Rewards: The majority of members may be eligible to earn up to $120 in rewards for completing certain health care activities such as an annual physical or wellness visit, preventive screenings, a flu shot, or by staying active and tracking their steps.

More Plan Options to Meet Diverse Needs

The only company to offer Medicare plans with the AARP name, UnitedHealthcare serves nearly one in five people in the Medicare program through its portfolio of plansvi.

This includes approximately 4.5 million through its Medicare Supplement plans. In 2021, people with eligible UnitedHealthcare Medicare Supplement plans across 35 states will have access to a variety of value-added programs and features offered at no additional cost, including a nationwide dental discount program with no waiting periods or annual limits, a hearing aid discount program; 24/7 nurse line; Renew Active by UnitedHealthcare, which offers access to an extensive network of participating gyms and fitness locations,vii as well as access to AARP Staying Sharp online brain health program; and an AARP Smart Driver course—an online or in-person driving refresher course that may allow for reduced insurance premiums.

UnitedHealthcare also serves approximately 4.1 million people through its stand-alone Part D prescription drug plans, including the AARP MedicareRx Walgreens (PDP) plan, which offers $0 tier 1 copays at more than 9,200 Walgreens and Duane Reade locations.

People can make changes to their Medicare coverage during Medicare Annual Enrollment, which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

For more information on UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare plans, visit: UHCMedicareHealthPlans.com.

iRefers to UnitedHealthcare’s standard Medicare Advantage plans (ie, non-special needs plans).

iiCMS enrollment data, August 2020. Enrollment across all plans.

iiiNetwork size varies by market

ivNew Renew Active states for 2021 – Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and West Virginia.

vBased on gym and fitness location network size.

viCMS enrollment data, August 2020.

viiThese are additional insured member services apart from the Medicare Supplement Plan benefits, are not insurance programs, are subject to geographical availability, and may be discontinued at any time. Availability of fitness program may vary by area. Fitness program network only includes participating facilities and locations. None of these services should be used for emergency or urgent-care needs. In an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. Note that certain services are provided by Affiliates of UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or other third parties not affiliated with UnitedHealthcare.

Source: UnitedHealthcare