New for open enrollment: Plans with upfront pricing, mental health help and more

Open enrollment can be more than just a task on your calendar to select or switch your health plan for the coming year. It can be a chance to look for new offerings that may make health care services easier to access and more affordable.

The key is picking plans with all the right elements. A helpful place to start that process may be by figuring out what’s changed since the last time you signed up for coverage.

This year, you may be able to choose a plan with a different design, such as one with cost-comparison tools. There may be options for increased mental health support to help reduce stress and avoid burnout. You may find wellness programs with incentives to exercise, improve your sleep or quit smoking.

Plus, beyond traditional specialty benefits like dental and vision, there may be additional voluntary benefits that could be a good fit for you and your family, such as life or critical illness coverage.

Here are five things to watch for as you prepare to make benefit choices for 2023:

1. Upfront-pricing resources – In a recent survey, more than half of respondents said inflation and rising costs are the biggest issues facing the U.S. With that in mind, you may want to look for a plan with upfront pricing, so you know costs before making a medical appointment.

For example, Surest™ plans offered by UnitedHealthcare are designed to eliminate deductibles and give eligible members single, all-in prices. Plans also display quality providers who offer high-value, lower-cost options. This price visibility may reduce the risk of a surprise bill and lead to lower member out-of-pocket costs by up to 44%.1

2. Virtual care options – Virtual care, also called telehealth, has gone from serving people who are already sick to detecting diseases and managing chronic conditions more effectively. Some plans now include virtual primary care and specialty services, including mental health, dental and hearing care. There may also be plans where virtual care is the starting point for services. 

For example, the UnitedHealthcare NavigateNOW virtual-first plan offers 24/7 online access to a personalized care team. Members access primary, urgent and behavioral health care, and have access to unlimited chat and same-day appointments. Care begins virtually and connects to in-person services, when necessary.

3. Increased behavioral and mental health support – The COVID-19 pandemic led to increases in stress, anxiety and burnout for some people. As a result, expanded behavioral and mental health help may be included with your plan options. Look for support that meets your needs across the entire care continuum, including:

– Mental health education

– Stress-reduction apps

– Virtual coaching

– In-person and virtual therapy

– Psychiatric care

Your plan may also feature an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) designed to make it easier and more affordable to connect with mental health services.

4. New wellness programs – Some health plans are expanding benefits to include wellness rewards with incentives and tools to help you make more informed health and lifestyle decisions, like getting recommended preventive care or setting fitness goals.

For example, in some UnitedHealthcare plans, eligible members can get a 12-month subscription for Apple Fitness+ at no additional cost. Fitness+ offers over 3,000 studio-style workouts and meditations designed to be welcoming to all and to help users live healthier lives.

Later this fall, only an iPhone will be needed to subscribe and enjoy the workouts and mediations with world-class trainers and today’s top music.  Fitness+ workouts and meditations can be done anytime, anywhere on iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV, and the integration with Apple Watch takes the experience to the next level with personalized metrics like heart rate and calories burned.

5. Specialty benefits – Some companies are adding more specialty benefits to plans to help attract and retain employees by helping them better care for themselves and their families. Beyond dental and vision benefits, you may have access to other types of coverage, including:

– Short- and long-term disability

– Family- and medical-related leave

– Critical illness or accident

– Hospital stays

– Hearing

– Pet health

One more thing: After you research your options, make sure you know when you’re supposed to sign up for coverage:

  • For employer-provided coverage, open enrollment typically occurs within a two-week period between September and December.
  • For Affordable Care Act plans, visit your state’s health insurance website to find this year’s enrollment dates.
  • For Medicare, you can enroll or make changes to coverage from Oct. 15-Dec. 7.

Visit uhc.com for more helpful articles and videos about open enrollment.

Surest self-funded 2021 book of business; Milliman 2021 commercial benchmarks and MARA risk adjustment    methodology. Risk adjusted for         demographics, geography, and disease burden.

Apple, Apple Watch and Apple Fitness+ are registered and unregistered trademarks of Apple Inc.