Removing out-of-pocket expenses for the accessible virtual visits may help improve health equity by reducing medical costs for consumers and encourage earlier interventions. In turn, interventions may reduce the risk of complications and avoid visits to more expensive settings like the emergency room.
Eligible members of UnitedHealthcare will no longer have out-of-pocket costs for 24/7 Virtual Visits if they are enrolled in applicable fully insured employer-sponsored plans. These members can access healthcare professionals any time to treat a variety of medical issues.
Those eligible for these plans will have access to this coverage enhancement upon renewal and for new plans.
Dr. Donna O’Shea, chief medical officer of population health for UnitedHealthcare, said the coverage update will be offered to some fully insured plans, beginning with larger employers, starting July 1.
UnitedHealthcare will continue to add more employers throughout this year and next year, eventually extending the waiver to more than 5 million fully insured members by the end of 2024, O’Shea said.
“We are also working with employers with self-funded plans to make this coverage option available to their employees,” she added.
Removing out-of-pocket expenses for the accessible virtual visits may help improve health equity by reducing medical costs for consumers and encourage earlier interventions, according to a release by UnitedHealthcare. In turn, interventions can reduce the risk of complications and avoid visits to more expensive settings like the emergency room.
As an effort to use health technology to access quality care and an affordable price, the 24/7 Virtual Visits service is an alternative option to services delivered by local care providers. The visits make up approximately 95% of virtual care appointments among UnitedHealthcare members, the release said.
Members can benefit from this service by connecting on demand to a care provider by video or phone through myuhc.com or the UnitedHealthcare app. The service includes national care providers like Optum Virtual Care.
24/7 Virtual Visits may treat many of the same conditions — like flu or pinkeye — as an ER or urgent care. Patients are treated to a more convenient and affordable alternative — particularly at night or on weekends when most primary care providers are usually unavailable.