MINNETONKA, Minn. (Apr. 30, 2015) — 

UnitedHealthcare is expanding coverage options for virtual physician visits, giving people enrolled in self-funded employer health plans secure, online access to a physician via mobile phone, tablet or computer 24 hours a day.

A new network of care providers offering video-based virtual visits enables UnitedHealthcare plan participants across the country to choose from in-network virtual care provider groups, then see and speak with a doctor using real-time audio and video technology to obtain a diagnosis and any necessary prescriptions for minor medical needs including allergies, sinus and bladder infections, bronchitis and other conditions.  

Coverage for virtual care provider visits is now available to self-funded employer customers and will expand to UnitedHealthcare employer-sponsored and individual plan participants in 2016, giving more people expanded in-network care options.

There is a shortage of 45,000 primary care physicians in meeting the needs of patients nationwide, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges. The issue is especially challenging for the 25 percent of the U.S. population that lives in rural areas, where access to health care, particularly subspecialty care, is often lacking.

More than 10 million consumers directly benefited from using telemedicine last year, according to the American Telemedicine Association, and a recent Harris Poll survey found that more than a quarter of consumers (27 percent) would choose a telehealth visit if the option was available to them. The ability to leverage telehealth technology and enable virtual visits improves access to critical health services.

“UnitedHealthcare is developing innovative telemedicine solutions that enable consumers, especially people who live in rural areas of the country, to access quality, cost-effective health care, whether at home or on the go,” said Jeff Alter, CEO of UnitedHealthcare’s Commercial Group business. “Consumers can save time and money choosing among quality physician groups from the convenience of their smartphone, tablet or home computer at any time of the day.”

People can access a list of participating virtual-visit care providers through UnitedHealthcare’s Health4Me™ mobile app. From the “Find and Price Care” page, Health4Me users can review the in-network provider groups and the cost of a virtual visit with each contracted provider group. From there, users can connect directly to the provider group of their choice. UnitedHealthcare’s primary member portal, myuhc.com, also provides information about and access to the virtual-visit care providers.

The cost of a video-based virtual visit is less than $50 and provides significant savings when compared to costs for similar minor medical needs treated at a doctor’s office ($80), urgent care facility ($160) or emergency room ($650). UnitedHealthcare plan participants pay a portion of the cost for the virtual visit, subject to deductibles, copays and out-of-pocket expenses based on their specific benefit plan.

UnitedHealthcare is partnering with Doctor On Demand, Optum’s NowClinic and American Well’s Amwell to provide video-based virtual visits in 47 states and Washington, D.C. UnitedHealthcare will add network care providers in the future to further expand choice and access for plan participants.

“We are grateful that UnitedHealthcare has chosen Doctor On Demand as an inaugural video visit provider,” said Adam Jackson, co-founder and CEO of Doctor On Demand. “We built Doctor On Demand to provide the easiest, most convenient access to some of the best physicians in the country. In partnership with UnitedHealthcare, we can now help even more Americans get the care they need. Starting immediately, our highly rated service will be available to eligible UnitedHealthcare employer customers.”

“It’s easy to consult with a NowClinic doctor,” said Mike Weissel, executive vice president, Optum Consumer Solutions Group. “We are bringing convenient and quality, cost-effective health care directly to consumers, who can access board-certified physicians through our mobile application whenever and wherever they may need care.”

“The nation’s top health systems and health plans trust American Well to deliver an excellent patient experience,” said Ido Schoenberg, M.D., CEO of American Well. “We are delighted that patients served by UnitedHealthcare will now have Amwell as a covered benefit – giving them dependable and affordable access to medical care anytime.”

About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 850,000 physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @myUHC on Twitter.

About Doctor On Demand
Doctor On Demand is a healthcare service that provides Video Visits with Board Certified Physicians, Psychologists, and Lactation Consultants via smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. Doctor On Demand delivers services through employers, health systems, health plans, and directly to consumers. Patients simply download the Doctor On Demand app or visit www.doctorondemand.com, provide a list of their symptoms, and are instantly connected for a Video Visit. Consumers rate Doctor On Demand as the best Video Visit provider. The company has more 5 star App Store reviews than every other telemedicine app combined. 87% of patients love Doctor On Demand so much they have recommended it to their family and friends. Entrepreneurs Dr. Phil McGraw, Jay McGraw and Adam Jackson founded the company in 2012 to provide fast, easy, and cost-effective access to high quality medical and behavioral health care. To learn more, please visit www.doctorondemand.com.

About NowClinic
Optum’s NowClinic is a telemedicine service that is helping transform the health care delivery system – moving from a condition-centered to a consumer-centered model – offering innovations in technology and breadth of provider network and clinical expertise.  NowClinic connects people with board certified, licensed health care providers whenever and however it’s convenient for them – online, by phone or mobile device through our popular app. NowClinic has proven to help consumers avoid expensive and time-consuming visits to the emergency room or urgent care – 95 percent of NowClinic users say they would “definitely” use us again. NowClinic is available in 45 states, plus the District of Columbia.  For additional information, please visit www.nowclinic.com.

About American Well
American Well, the nation’s largest telehealth service, has delivered healthcare into the homes and workplaces of patients for close to a decade. Serving the nation’s top health systems, health plans, as well as hundreds of national employers, American Well provides a modern healthcare experience by connecting consumers with board-certified healthcare professionals via video over web or mobile. American Well has the most downloaded telehealth app and became the first company to receive accreditation by the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) earlier this year. American Well, Amwell, and Amwell Therapy Associates are trademarks of American Well Corporation in the United States and other countries. All other trademarks used are the property of their respective owners. For more information, visit AmericanWell.com or follow American Well on Facebook and Twitter.

Tags: UnitedHealthcarePress Release, Announcements, Innovation