HLTH21: UnitedHealthcare, Optum collaborate on new virtual-first plan design

UnitedHealthcare has unveiled a new virtual-first plan design called NavigateNOW, which was developed in collaboration with its sister company, Optum.

The plan will launch for select employers in nine markets later this year, UnitedHealth announced late Tuesday. The new product aims to offer a simpler and more convenient experience to its members, despite premiums that are 15% less than traditional plans.

Members can connect 24/7 with a personalized Optum care team that will assist with primary care, urgent care and behavioral health care services as well as UnitedHealthcare's national provider network. Members will also have $0 copayments on a slew of services, including both in-person and virtual primary care and behavioral health care, virtual urgent care and many generic medications.

"We're trying to take a more holistic approach to virtual as time goes on," Dirk McMahon, president and chief operating officer at UnitedHealth Group, said during a session at HLTH's 2021 conference in Boston Tuesday.

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The plan will launch in Little Rock, Arkansas; Fort Meyers, Florida; Pittsburgh; Springfield, Massachusetts; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Richmond, Virginia; Indianapolis; Dallas and Houston.

In addition to the slate of virtual care benefits, NavigateNOW members can join a wearables-enabled wellness program in which they can earn more than $1,000 per year by meeting daily activity targets such as walking, cycling, swimming and strength training.

Members will be matched with their care team following a questionnaire that includes information on their medications, any chronic conditions and personal preferences. The care team is led by a dedicated primary care provider who can connect the patient as needed to Optum providers and other health professionals.

The goal, UnitedHealthcare said, is to identify potential risks sooner, promote preventive care and ensure patients are receiving whole-person care in the right setting.

“By collaborating with Optum, UnitedHealthcare is developing a more integrated and coordinated health care system that uses technology and personal support to help encourage whole-person health, which may help prevent and detect disease before it starts,” said Rhonda Randall, chief medical officer at UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual, in a statement.

“UnitedHealthcare and Optum will continue working together to modernize our approach to health benefits and care delivery, using technology and data to help make it more convenient for our members to access various types of medical care to support their physical and mental well-being," Randall said.