UnitedHealthcare plans big Medicare Advantage expansion for 2021

The insurer plans to increase the footprint for its Medicare Advantage plans by adding 300 additional counties to its service area.

UnitedHealthcare is planning a big expansion to its Medicare Advantage plans for 2021. Currently, more than 6.5 million people are enrolled in its plans. Next year, the insurer will expand its service area to include another 3.2 million people across 300 counties.

It would make for UnitedHealthcare’s largest expansion of its Medicare Advantage business in five years, the company said.

The insurer said most of its plans would include $0 copays for primary care, behavioral health visits, routine vision and hearing exams, colonoscopies and mammograms, and cardiac rehab. It’s also waiving copays for medical and behavioral telehealth visits.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a watershed moment that is profoundly altering the health care landscape. At-home health care went from being a convenient care option to, at times, the only option for many people,” Tim Noel, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Medicare and Retirement, said in a news release. “And while COVID-19 changed so much for so many of us, it did not change UnitedHealthcare’s unwavering commitment to helping people access the care they need, whether in a clinical setting or at home.”

The company said it is also offering care navigators for patients who recently went through a surgery or cancer treatment, or who are managing a chronic illness like diabetes or COPD. Navigators can help coordinate care and address claims issues, for example. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, UnitedHealthcare said they can also help members obtain medication and food while quarantining.

Other insurers, including Humana and Cigna, have also announced plans to expand their Medicare Advantage footprint next year.

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