3 min read January 2023 — In an interview with Invest:, Paul Marden, CEO, employer and individual at UnitedHealthcare of New Jersey, Pennsylvania & Delaware, discussed the steps that they are taking towards affordability with products such as Surest and Vital Medication Program that reduce the financial burden whenever clients need access to the healthcare system.
What have been some of the key highlights and milestones for United Healthcare in the region for the past year?
UnitedHealthcare has over 8,000 employees that reside in Pennsylvania, with a statewide member footprint of over 1.2 million. UnitedHealthcare provides products for businesses of all sizes – from two lives up to several thousand, to large national accounts. We’ve seen tremendous growth in the past six months thanks to our differentiated product portfolio which allows us to distribute our product across all types of funding, including fully insured, level-funded, or administrative services only.
How would you describe the demand for UnitedHealthcare’s services and what is driving the most growth?
Employers and their employees are focused on affordability, a simpler, transparent experience, and getting care where and when they want it. Our Pennsylvania growth is attributed to two new innovative products: Surest and BenefitAlly.
Surest is a copay-only plan, eliminating any deductibles and coinsurance. Members appreciate the easy to navigate app, which suggests providers for their specific condition with cost certainty for their visit. In most cases, Surest will offer lower out of pocket cost options for the member as well as lower premium for the employer.
Another very popular product is BenefitAlly. BenefitAlly couples a traditional deductible and coinsurance medical plan with hospital indemnity, critical illness and accident coverage. When members have a medical claim, UnitedHealthcare will automatically reimburse eligible expenses under the Hospital Indemnity, Critical Illness and Accident coverage lines. The result is far less out of pocket expenses for the member. Over 50% of our sales in PA are attributed to BenefitAlly.
What is United Healthcare doing to tackle affordability?
Affordability is a top focus of UnitedHealthcare, and we are always pushing the envelope to offer solutions to assist our members in keeping their healthcare costs low.
Formerly known as Bind, Surest offers transparency to employees so that they know what they are going to spend before accessing care. Essentially, the way it works is that we provide first-dollar coverage. At the same time, when an employee needs care, they can go to the Surest app, type in their condition, and discover the providers in the area that can treat their issue, as well as the price they will pay for the visit. This information allows them to choose from a variety of quality and efficient providers with a lower cost share.
The labor shortage is one of the key challenges in the country. What advice would you give to employers to strategize around it?
When employers are looking to recruit and retain talent, they want to make sure they are taking care of the well-being of their employees, which includes providing them with affordable health insurance coverage. UnitedHealthcare products like Surest and Benefit Ally drastically reduce the financial burden when employees need access to the healthcare system.
At the same time, we’ve seen an increased need for comprehensive behavioral and mental healthcare for employees. We have found that the post-pandemic environment, in addition to economic uncertainty, is putting employees under added pressure. Families are more stressed than ever, and we want to make sure that there is a comprehensive and accessible behavioral health benefit available to employees and their families. Not everybody needs to go to a provider, they might want a virtual resource to help them through meditation and stress management, so we offer our members access to apps like Sanvello. We are constantly updating the availability of tools and resources for members to help them with their behavioral health needs.
What is your outlook for United Healthcare in the region?
The future is promising. I think that by working together and continuing to partner with providers in the Western PA region, we are going to see higher-quality, more accessible and efficient healthcare.
Is there any United Healthcare project or product that you are particularly excited to see come into the market?
UnitedHealthcare is introducing and improving programs that help make it quicker, easier, and less expensive for members to get the prescription medications they need — by offering the right drug, at the right price, in the right setting and with the right support.
One way we’re doing this is through our recently launched Vital Medication Program, which eliminates out-of-pocket costs for drugs that are critical to maintaining the health of our members. The Vital Medication Program covers a variety of life-saving medications including insulin, epinephrine, glucagon, naloxone, and albuterol. Eliminating out-of-pocket expenses for these critical medications can help reduce the burden of medical costs on consumers and encourage better medication adherence, reducing the risk of complications and expensive hospitalizations.
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