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. We are taking a number of steps to support members, providers and communities during COVID-19. Highlights of these key actions are summarized below.
Providing over $1.5 billion of additional support for our customers
As a company, UnitedHealth Group is taking action to directly support people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic by providing over $1.5 billion of additional support for our customers. Read news release
COVID-19 testing and treatment
To help you access the COVID-19 treatment you need, UnitedHealthcare is extending cost-share waivers for our Individual, Fully-Insured Group Market and Medicare Advantage health plans, as noted below:
- Individual and Fully-Insured Group Market health plans: You will have $0 cost-share (copay, coinsurance and deductible) for network visits, including a telehealth visit, for COVID-19 treatment through Dec. 31, 2020. Out-of-network cost-share waivers will end Oct. 22, 2020. After that date, coverage for out-of-network services will be determined by your benefit plan. Implementation for self-funded customers may vary.
- Medicare Advantage health plans: You will have $0 cost-share (copay, coinsurance and deductible) for in-network and out-of-network visits, including a telehealth visit, for COVID-19 treatment through Dec. 31, 2020.
- For individuals enrolled in UnitedHealthcare Community Plans: State variations and regulations may apply during this time.
Expansion of telehealth access
With Virtual Visits, you can talk to a health care provider online 24/7 for urgent care needs, like seasonal flu, allergies, pink eye and more. Urgent care visits are available through our preferred telehealth partners, including Teladoc, American Well, Doctor On Demand and others.
For many Individual and Group Market health plan members, you can access the Virtual Visit benefit offered through one of the UnitedHealthcare preferred telehealth partners. Beginning Oct. 1, 2020, all Virtual Visits not related to COVID-19 testing will be covered according to your plan benefits. If your Virtual Visit is related to COVID-19 testing, your cost-share is $0 through the national public health emergency period1, currently scheduled to end Jan. 20, 2021.
For Medicare Advantage and Medicaid members, you can continue to access your existing Virtual Visit benefits offered through one of our preferred telehealth partners without cost-sharing.
UnitedHealthcare is committed to helping you get the care you need from home or work through telehealth visits. We will expand access to telehealth services for in-network providers for many of our plans through Dec. 31, 2020, as noted below.
UnitedHealthcare Individual and Fully-Insured Group Market health plans, with opt-in available for self-funded employer plans are as follows:
- Coverage for COVID-19 testing-related telehealth visits: For COVID-19 testing-related telehealth visits, you will have $0 cost-share with network and out-of-network providers through the national public health emergency period, currently scheduled to end Jan. 20, 2021.
- Coverage for COVID-19 treatment via telehealth visits: For COVID-19 treatment via telehealth visits, you have $0 cost-share with network providers through Dec. 31, 2020. UnitedHealthcare chose to expand this network cost-share waiver to help you access the care you need from home. Out-of-network cost-share waivers will end Oct. 22, 2020. After that date, coverage for out-of-network services will be determined by your benefit plan. Implementation for self-funded customers may vary.
- Coverage for telehealth visits not related to COVID-192: You have expanded access to telehealth visits with network providers through Dec. 31, 2020. This includes network telehealth visits for medical, mental health (behavioral), physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, chiropractic, hospice, home health, vision, hearing and dental services. You are responsible for any copay, coinsurance or deductible according to your benefit plan.
For out-of-network providers, services are covered according to your benefit plan.
Please note that state-specific rules, regulations and emergency periods do apply and can be found on the UnitedHealthcare provider website or by signing in to your member account. These may vary from federal regulations. If no state-specific exceptions apply, UnitedHealthcare guidelines will apply.
UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans:
- Coverage for COVID-19 related telehealth visits: For COVID-19 testing related telehealth, you have $0 cost-share for in-network and out-of-network visits through the national public health emergency period, currently scheduled to end Jan. 20, 2021.
- Coverage for COVID-19 treatment via telehealth visits: For COVID-19 treatment via telehealth, you have $0 cost-share for in-network and out-of-network telehealth treatment visits through December 31, 2020. UnitedHealthcare chose to expand this cost-share waiver to help you access the care you need.
- Coverage for telehealth visits not related to COVID-19: For in-network and out-of- network providers, you have expanded access to telehealth through Dec. 31, 2020. This includes telehealth visits for medical, mental health (behavioral), physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, chiropractic, home health, vision, hearing and dental services.
You will have $0 cost-share for in-network and out-of-network primary care telehealth services through December 31, 2020. UnitedHealthcare has chosen to extend this cost-share waiver to help you get the routine medical care you need.
Cost-sharing for non-primary care telehealth will be processed according to your benefit plan as of Oct. 1, 2020. You will be responsible for any copay, coinsurance and deductible, according to your benefit plan.
Medicaid health plans: For individuals enrolled in UnitedHealthcare Community Plans, state variations and regulations may apply during this time. Please review the UnitedHealthcare Community Plan website and your state’s site for the latest applicable information. If no state-specific exceptions apply, traditional UnitedHealthcare plan guidelines will apply.
Expansion of member resources
We provide updated information, programs and support to help our members manage during the national public health emergency.
UHC.com and UHCprovider.com are the information hubs for the latest details on care, support and resources, including access to health plan accounts for personalized digital care. 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.
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.
We also introduced a COVID-19 symptom checker that can help members review their symptoms quickly from the convenience of their own homes and then guide them to the appropriate next steps for care if they need it. In addition, an online tool is available to help members find a COVID-19 testing location in their area, if their health care provider determines testing is appropriate.
We’re also helping by:
- Supporting members in home isolation through a navigation support program.
- Offering support for high-risk Medicare and Medicaid members with a home-based management platform.
- Offering access to early prescription refills, as needed, through June 30, 2020.
- Offering an on-demand emotional support mobile app, called Sanvello, that is available to many members to help them cope with stress, anxiety and depression. Eligible UnitedHealthcare members must register using their UnitedHealthcare member card.
- Providing access to emotional support through our helpline, a free service from Optum, our sister company. This service is open to anyone and can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 866-342-6892
Offered a special enrollment period for members with fully insured employer-sponsored plans.
Additional programs to help improve access to care
Programs and communications have been developed to help inform and support our members, providers and partners and connect them to the resources they may need.
We are actively engaging with those we serve to help them feel more informed and supported. Emails, phone calls, webcasts and videos are helping to get timely information about access to care and coverage into the hands of people who may need it most.
UnitedHealthcare is easing certain contractual requirements for its fully-insured and self-funded customers and offering a one-time special enrollment period opportunity. This opportunity allows employees who did not opt in for coverage during the regular enrollment period to now enroll and get certain coverage. This one-time special enrollment period was open from March 23, 2020 until April 13, 2020.
We have allowed grace periods for employers and individuals to pay premiums to help support access to care.
Actions to support providers
We’re working to improve access to care, decrease your administrative processes and help address the short-term financial pressure that may be caused by the national public health emergency.
On April 7, 2020, UnitedHealth Group, the parent company of UnitedHealthcare, announced steps to accelerate nearly $2 billion in payments and other financial support to providers. This includes accelerated claim payments to medical and behavioral care providers in UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and Individual and Group Market fully insured health plans. Learn more about this announcement.
Our telehealth coding guide gives examples of how we might reimburse telehealth services for dates of service from March 18, 2020 until June 18, 2020. This includes telehealth sessions, virtual check-ins and electronic visits (e-visits).
We’re temporarily updating our credentialing policies to implement provisional credentialing from March 19, 2020 until June 18, 2020 for out-of-network care providers who are licensed independent practitioners and want to participate in our networks.
To streamline operations for providers, we have suspended certain prior authorization requirements for COVID-19 diagnostic radiology, post-acute care, member transfers to a new provider and site of service review for many surgical codes. Visit our COVID-19 prior authorization page for effective dates and specific details.
Claims with a date of service on or after January 1, 2020 will not be denied for failure to meet timely filing deadlines if submitted by June 30, 2020. This applies to Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and Individual and Group Market health plan claims.
If you need help with patient discharge planning to lower levels of care settings during the national public health emergency period, such as to a skilled nursing facility (SNF), please email COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org and one of our team members will be in touch with you.
Supporting our members and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic
Our mission to combat COVID-19
Here are several actions we have taken to help our customers, consumers and employees have the support they may need during the national public health emergency.
- Launching ProtectWell™, an innovative return-to-workplace protocol that enables employers to bring employees back to work in a safer environment. ProtectWell™ incorporates Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and the latest clinical research to limit the spread of COVID-19 by screening employees for symptoms and establishing guidelines to support the health and safety of the workforce and workplace. Read news release
- A UnitedHealth Group study helped clear the path for self-administered COVID-19 tests, which are now FDA approved. Read news release
- Dedicating senior executives to major scientific discovery and relief efforts, including Sir Andrew Witty, president of UnitedHealth Group and CEO of Optum to co-lead a global effort of the World Health Organization (WHO), in partnership with key stakeholders, to accelerate the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. Read news release
- A study completed by UnitedHealth Group with the Yale School or Medicine suggests that older COVID-19 patients with hypertension who were taking angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors may have a lower risk of COVID-19 hospitalization. A clinical trial will follow as a next step. Read news release
- UnitedHealth Group was chosen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to help reimburse health care providers and facilities who have conducted COVID-19 testing or provided COVID-19 treatment for uninsured individuals. To support this program, we worked with HHS to launch an educational website, toll-free support line and a new portal. Visit educational website
- UnitedHealth Group is honored to have been asked to assist HHS in distributing, as directed by HHS, an initial $30 billion in emergency funding to health care providers seeking assistance under the Federal CARES Act. This effort has been vital to maintaining the health and readiness of our health care system, and we’re pleased to have the opportunity to support it. Read news release
- UnitedHealth Group has paid out $23.8 million through a nationwide employee program that helps cover the cost of emergency child care for kids aged 12 and under, accounting for 238,000 days of child care to date. Read news release
- Organizing our cafeteria and food service teams to make meals for those in need – more than 75,000 meals per week in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Greensboro, Hartford and Las Vegas.
- We deployed 700 Advance Practice Clinicians to serve members and patients on telehealth lines
- To address health disparities, we’re piloting a scalable mobile and local testing program that works with local partners to provide testing and wrap-around services including food, health and safety kits and education designed to meet the unique needs of disadvantaged communities in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Orleans Parish and Navajo Nation
In addition, UnitedHealth Group has committed more than $100 million to fight COVID-19 and support impacted communities, including health care workers, hard-hit states and localities, seniors, and those experiencing homelessness and food insecurity. A few highlights of the financial commitments we've made include:
- The United Health Foundation and AARP Foundation have launched a $5 million partnership to address social isolation and food insecurity among seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read news release
- UnitedHealth Group is donating $5 million to support a federally sponsored program, led by Mayo Clinic, seeking to accelerate and expand the availability of investigational convalescent plasma treatments for COVID-19 patients nationwide. Read news release
- UnitedHealth Group is investing $10 million to fight the COVID-19 pandemic internationally and support impacted communities in countries where its UnitedHealthcare and Optum businesses operate, including in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, India, Ireland, Peru, Philippines and Portugal. Read news release
- UnitedHealth Group was proud to support frontline health care workers through the TaylorMade Driving Relief charity golf match, where we donated $3 million to the American Nurses Foundation and CDC Foundation. Find out more about TaylorMade Driving Relief
- We're donating $12.3 million in Empowering Health grants to help expand access to care. Read news release
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. Download a one-page review of the UnitedHealth Group COVID-19 response
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. Let us know how we’re doing.
We’re making daily updates to the site. Please check back often for the latest information.
- This date is subject to change based on federal or state guidance.
- For Individual and Fully-Insured Group Market health plans, the cost-share waiver for network telehealth visits ended Sept. 30, 2020. For out-of-network providers, the expansion of telehealth access ended July 24, 2020. As of July 25, 2020, out-of-network telehealth services are covered according to the member’s benefit plan and UnitedHealthcare’s standard telehealth reimbursement policy.
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.