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
These are among the actions being undertaken to provide immediate assistance:
- For people served by UnitedHealthcare commercial fully insured benefits, credits ranging from 5% to 20% depending upon the specific plan will be applied to premium billings received by customers in June.
- For people served by UnitedHealthcare under Medicare Advantage plans, all specialist and primary care physician cost-sharing will be waived at least through the end of September.
- For people served by UnitedHealthcare AARP Medicare Supplement policies, we will provide both new and renewal premium price stability and support.
- For people served by UnitedHealthcare Medicaid plans, the company is accelerating funds to state partners and critical care providers to serve more people and expanding its Housing+Health and homeless support programs, providing shelf stable food and baby formula.
COVID-19 testing and treatment
A virus detection (diagnostic) test determines if a person is currently infected with COVID-19, while an antibody (serology) test may determine if a person has been exposed to COVID-19.
During the national public health emergency period, we will cover medically necessary COVID-19 testing at no cost-sharing when ordered by a physician or health care professional for purposes of diagnosis or treatment of an individual member.
Tests must be FDA authorized to be covered without cost-sharing. FDA-authorized tests include tests approved for patient use through pre-market approval or emergency use pathways, as well as tests that are developed and administered in accordance with FDA specifications or through state regulatory approval. Be sure to ask your health care provider to order an FDA-authorized test.
This coverage applies to members enrolled in Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and Individual and Group Market health plans. Benefits will be otherwise reviewed in accordance with the member’s health plan. State variations and regulations may apply during this time.
UnitedHealthcare is waiving cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing-related visits during the national public health emergency period, whether the testing-related visit is received in a health care provider’s office, urgent care center, emergency department or telehealth visit. This coverage applies to Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, Individual and Group Market health plan members.
UnitedHealthcare is waiving member cost-sharing for the treatment of COVID-19 through July 24, 2020 for its Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, Individual and Group Market fully insured health plans. We will also work with self-funded customers who want us to implement a similar approach on their behalf.
Through September 30, 2020,1 many of our members can access the Virtual Visit benefit offered through one of the UnitedHealthcare preferred partners with no cost-sharing. This coverage applies to Individual and Group Market health plan members.
Medicare Advantage and Medicaid members can continue to access existing virtual visit benefits offered through one of our designated partners without cost-sharing.
UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage and Individual and Fully Insured Group Market health plans will continue to extend its temporary cost-share (copay, coinsurance or deductible) waiver for telehealth services, as described below. State-specific and Medicaid rules, regulations, date limitations or exclusions may also apply, so please review the UnitedHealthcare Community plan website and your state’s site for the latest applicable information.
The following cost-share waiver applies to related visits for medical; outpatient behavioral; physical, occupational and speech therapy; chiropractic therapy; home health; remote patient monitoring; dental; vision; and hearing. Benefits will be reviewed in accordance with the member’s health plan, if applicable.
- UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage:
- For out-of-network telehealth services for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 visits, UnitedHealthcare is waiving cost-share through July 24, 2020.1
- For network-only telehealth services for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19, UnitedHealthcare will extend the cost-share waiver through Sept. 30, 2020.1
- UnitedHealthcare Individual and Fully Insured Group Market health plans, with opt-in available for self-funded employers:
- For out-of-network telehealth services for COVID-19 visits, UnitedHealthcare is waiving cost-share through July 24, 2020.1 Please note out-of-network telehealth services for non-COVID-19 visits are not included within the cost-share waiver and will be processed in accordance with your health benefits plan.
- For network-only telehealth services for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 visits, UnitedHealthcare will extend the cost-share waiver through Sept. 30, 2020.1
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 access to Sanvello, an on-demand emotional support mobile app available to many members. Access to this service was free to everyone through June 30, 2020.2
- 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 COVIDemail@example.com and one of our team members will be in touch with you.
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 nearly $75 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
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.