5 health plan perks to look for during open enrollment

During open enrollment, your focus may be on selecting major medical coverage to help provide access to care and offer financial protection in the event of a health issue, illness or accident.

While those may be valuable aspects of having a health plan, it is important to recognize the additional benefits that might be available, such as vision, dental or hearing coverage. Moreover, some plans may feature other perks designed to enhance your well-being and help maximize the value of your benefits. 


Here are five things to look for as you make benefit decisions for 2022:

1.     Digital fitness apps and wearables

If you started or expanded home-based workouts during the COVID-19 pandemic and want to continue into next year, look for a health plan that gives you access to digital fitness apps.

For instance, as part of their plan, eligible UnitedHealthcare members may have access to Peloton classes for one year, at no additional cost, to help improve overall fitness and well-being*. The offer provides year-long access to the Peloton App, featuring thousands of live and on-demand fitness classes, including strength, cardio, yoga and meditation.

Other health plan programs may provide a wearable device, such as a smartwatch or activity tracker, at no additional cost. By using the device and meeting certain daily activity goals, such as walking, biking, swimming or strength training (among others), a plan member may earn over $1,000 per year in financial incentives to help cover out-of-pocket medical expenses**.   

2.     Low back pain care

Back pain is one of the most common reasons people see a doctor or miss days at work, according to the National Institutes of Health. When addressing this issue, the American College of Physicians (ACP) recommends nonpharmacologic therapies as the first treatment. If the problem persists, the ACP advises nonsurgical options, such as exercise, physical therapy, chiropractic care or acupuncture.

If you’re a UnitedHealthcare member with new on-set low back pain, you may have access to these noninvasive treatments at no additional cost, including waived deductibles or copays. The physical therapy and chiropractic care benefit is designed to:

  • Make care more affordable
  • Improve health outcomes
  • Avoid often unnecessary and potentially harmful treatments, such as imaging, surgery or opioid prescriptions

3.     Vision protection and improvement

If you’re like most people, you’ve been spending a lot of time in front of screens. A study at the start of the pandemic found people were logging an average of 13 hours per day on digital devices, resulting in increased exposure to blue light. That may be concerning news for children and adults, because excess screen time and blue light may contribute to digital eye strain, which includes symptoms such as dry eyes and headaches.

To help reduce exposure to blue light, eligible UnitedHealthcare Vision members may have access to discounts of up to 20% on Eyesafe® blue-light-blocking screen protectors for smartphones, tablets and laptop computers.

From protecting vision to correcting it, you might also consider laser eye surgery to help correct eyesight. Check your vision plan options, as they may include coverage or a member discount for LASIK, a surgery that uses a laser to permanently change the shape of the cornea to improve vision.

4.     Teeth straightening

Leaving misaligned teeth untreated might not only affect your willingness to smile at people you meet, but it may also lead to problems such as tooth decay and gum disease, according to the American Association of Orthodontists. Funds from a Health Savings Account or a Flexible Spending Account can be used for dental improvements like teeth straightening.

One option could be home-delivered clear aligners, which may help improve your smile and potentially save time and money on orthodontic care. Some dental plans with orthodontic coverage help connect people to care from a licensed dentist and reimburse qualifying members for a portion of the costs for the personalized clear aligners, which may save money on teeth straightening.

5.     Hearing aids

Hearing loss can be a significant issue for millions of Americans, with a growing number of people at risk for noise-induced hearing loss due to exposure to loud sounds and an increased use of earbuds. Nearly 29 million adults in the U.S. could benefit from hearing aids, according to the National Institutes of Health.

With some hearing plans, you may be able to purchase custom-programmed hearing aids for less than devices sold through other channels***. To streamline the process further, new virtual hearing care options are emerging, helping with remote fitting and support.

*Peloton App access is available at no additional cost for up to 12 months to those enrolled in eligible UnitedHealthcare fully insured employer-sponsored health plans. Some additional limitations or state-specific restrictions may apply. Please contact your UnitedHealthcare representative for more information.

**Financial incentives may be less due to limits under applicable laws.

***The cost of hearing aids as well as the method of paying for them varies by plan. Medicare Advantage members should refer to their Evidence of Coverage document or call the number on their health plan ID card to confirm the cost and payment method for their plan.