UnitedHealthcare unveils trio of benefit tech tools

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UnitedHealthcare hopes to simplify how employees enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans sign up for health plans, receive benefits information and pay for services with their healthcare savings accounts.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas recently, the insurer released and demonstrated a trio of new services — digital onboarding, video explanation of benefits and use of Apple Pay — that do just that.

All services will be free for employees enrolled in a United health plan.

“So much of the healthcare experience is based on personal interaction and you have to make it relevant to that individual,” says UnitedHealthcare Chief Consumer Officer Rebecca Madsen, noting that the insurance giant invests $3 billion annually in “data, technology and innovation.”

She adds that employers need “to use data to understand who that individual is and to use technology to bring them an experience when they want, how they want and how it’s relevant to them.”

When it comes to HSAs, UHC plan participants can now pay for their pharmaceutical and doctor visits co-pays with Apple Pay, the iPhone-powered payment app. Along with being issued a credit card for their HSA, UHC plan participants and their dependents can download the app from the Apple AppStore, set up an account through Optum Bank, which oversees UHC’s HSA program, and pay for doctor’s visits and pharmaceuticals with their iPhone.

UHC plans to support Google Wallet and Samsung Pay by the middle of 2018.

“The goal is to make it as simple for people to pay and to do it out of their HSA which has the advantages of being pre-taxed and accumulating interest pre-tax as well,” Madsen says.

Digital onboarding and customized videos

UHC’s digital onboarding service allows new employees to choose their health and financial services in a step-by-step, survey-based process.

The application is designed for companies with 101 to 3,000 employees to guide either new hires or employees of companies that are new to UHC into the UHC system. It can either be hosted on a company’s intranet or hosted on UHC’s system. Madsen says the employee takes an online survey to identify what services — such as a smoking cessation or a wellness program — might be relevant to them.

“Rather than waiting for somebody to come on board and then ask, ‘What are you interested in?,’ it’s taking that moment of truth when you first join us and getting to know who that consumer is,” she says. “We’re able to offer them benefits that are relevant to them and their family at the time when they’re paying attention.”

The video explanation of benefits offering provides answers to commonly asked healthcare benefits questions and displays details via video that pertain to the different tiers of medical coverage in the UHC plans. Along with explaining basic benefit concepts like co-pays or deductibles, Madsen says a key data point is comparing the price of an emergency room visit to a trip to the local urgent care center for the employee.

UHC also can take the employee’s healthcare account data and create personalized videos that display an employee’s pertinent benefit data.

“If you play the video, say six months into the year, it'll adjust how much you have spent. If you have a $3,000 deductible and you've already spent $1,000, it'll show you have $2,000 left in your deductible,” she says.

The Apple Pay service is currently up and running, and the digital onboarding and personalized videos were tested with a small group of UHC clients and is now available for all clients.

“Being able to use digital technology and video with a captive audience to engage them in their healthcare experience and get the programs relevant to them is what we found to the wave of the future,” Madsen says.

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Benefits technology Enrollment systems Enrollment HSAs Benefit management Benefit strategies