UnitedHealthcare to expand ACA exchange footprint into 7 new states for 2022

UnitedHealth unveiled its plans for the 2022 Affordable Care Act exchanges. (jetcityimage/Getty)

UnitedHealthcare will expand its footprint on the Affordable Care Act's exchanges to seven more states for 2022, bring its total footprint to 18 states.

UHC plans will now be available on the marketplace in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan and Texas. Open enrollment for the ACA's exchanges begins Nov. 1 and is set to close Jan. 15, 2022.

“The need for affordable and accessible health care coverage continues to be important, especially due to the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19,” said Krista Nelson, chief growth and experience officer at UnitedHealthcare, in a statement. “We are committed to helping more Americans get reliable health insurance coverage by providing consumer-centric benefits members want at an affordable price.”

Some of UnitedHealth's individual and family plans will offer $0 primary care or prescriptions as low as $3 at preferred pharmacies such as Walgreens, according to the announcement.

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Other plans offer benefits such as virtual visits at no extra cost, dental and vision coverage, complimentary access to fitness classes or health savings account options.

For example, UnitedHealthcare's Advantage+ plans include embedded vision and dental benefits, alongside lower annual deductibles and out-of-pocket costs compared to other plan designs. By comparison, Value+ plans offer fundamental coverage alongside some additional benefits, such as six $0 primary care visits and an HSA option.

UnitedHealthcare will also make a virtual-first plan available on the exchanges, according to the announcement. The plan will include 24/7 virtual primary, urgent or specialty care for $0 as well as access to in-person care in the insurer's network as needed.

“We’re including a number of benefits this year to create offerings designed to meet the needs of all individuals,” said Marcus Robinson, national vice president of UnitedHealthcare, in a statement. “Whether someone is looking for low-cost prescriptions, wanting no-cost access to fitness classes, needing help managing a chronic condition, or searching for a more convenient way to connect with a provider, we’ve got you covered."

After years of losses on the exchanges, recent stability has encouraged insurers to re-enter the markets or expand their offerings on the market. UnitedHealthcare severely rolled back its footprint on the exchanges in 2016, but has expanded its footprint again over the past several years.