UnitedHealthcare is an insurance company and the largest single carrier in the United States. Its origins can be traced to Charter Med Incorporated which was founded in 1974 and acquired by UnitedHealth Group in 1977. UnitedHealth Group, the parent company of UnitedHealthcare, serves approximately 70 million individuals nationwide if you take account all of its divisions and subsidiaries. Its first network-based health plan for seniors was introduced in 1979. Certain UnitedHealthcare Medicare plans are also branded under the AARP name for insurance marketing purposes.
Medicare Insurance Products from UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare offers a broad range of Medicare products:
Medicare Advantage1 – UnitedHealthcare offers four types of Medicare Advantage plans which cover Original Medicare (Parts A & B) as well as additional benefits such coverage for hearing and eye care. Many Medicare Advantage plans sold by UnitedHealthcare include prescription drug coverage.
- HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) – Typically requires referrals to specialists and usually requires you to stay in network (receive medical services from a group of providers) except for ER & urgent care visits and dialysis.
- POS (Point-of-Service) – Referrals to specialists may be required but you can usually go out-of-network at a higher cost.
- PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) – Referrals to specialists are not required and you can also see providers out-of-network at a higher cost.
- PFFS (Private Fee-for Service) – No referrals are typically needed and these plans can be network or non-network. For network plans you must choose your provider(s) from a list of approved hospitals or doctors that are within your plan’s network. Non-network plans allow you to see any provider which accept the terms and conditions of the PFFS plan.
Medicare Supplement (Medigap)2 – Medicare supplement plans sold by UnitedHealthcare carry the AARP name. UnitedHealthcare pays AARP a royalty fee for branding and marketing purposes, AARP is not the insurer. Medigap plans do not require referrals to see specialists and like the name suggests, helps you pay for healthcare expenses not covered by Original Medicare. Medigap plans do not require you to see providers in a specific network and you can generally go to any provider that accepts Medicare patients. Furthermore, these plans are guaranteed renewable: your coverage cannot be cancelled and your premiums cannot be increased based on your health status or the number of claims which you file. However, rates are subject to change based on other factors such as inflation. When rates are changed they apply to all members enrolled in the same Medigap plan in the same region. Not all Medigap plans are available to every state and Medigap plans follow a different naming convention in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) – Medicare PDP plans sold by UnitedHealthcare also carry the AARP name. For additional information regarding the three types of 2014 AARP MedicareRx Plans offered by UnitedHealthcare, visit our AARP Medicare page.
Medicare Special Needs Plans (SNP)3 - UnitedHealthcare offers three types (Dual Eligible Plans, Institutional Plans, and Chronic Condition Plans) of Special Needs plans which are available to individuals who live in an institution, those who have certain chronic conditions, and dual eligibles (individuals who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid). Cost-sharing for Dual Eligible SNP is based on your income, resources, and Medicaid status and therefore varies from individual-to-individual. Benefits of special needs plans can include routine vision and dental coverage, care coordination, transportation to medical appointments, and credits which can be used to purchase health and personal care items as dental care products and first aid supplies. Typically special needs plans require you to receive services from a network for providers although some plans allow you to go out-of-network usually at a higher cost. All three categories of SNP include prescription drug coverage and all three categories usually allow you to choose a primary care physician from a network of providers.
To help you make an informed decision on which plan to purchase, you can use our Medicare and Medigap plan comparison tools to compare UnitedHealthcare Medicare insurance products with other similar offerings in your area.
1Medicare Advantage Plans (March 27, 2014) https://www.uhcmedicaresolutions.com/health-plans/medicare-advantage-plans.html
2AARP Medicare Supplement Plans (March 27, 2014) https://www.uhcmedicaresolutions.com/health-plans/medicare-supplement-plans.html
3Medicare Special Needs Plans (March 27, 2014) https://www.uhcmedicaresolutions.com/health-plans/special-needs-plans.html