Use health insurance to pay for goods and services online
BY DR. KATE WOLIN
You and your staff, or client’s employees may be working from the office or working from home. Either way, people are busy trying to juggle home and work life. The world has created digital solutions for everyday problems — so easy that you can go online to order products, groceries, prepared food or do banking. But there hasn’t been a similar solution for shopping for healthcare or health products and services.
Now, you telephone your doctor to make an appointment, walk into a pharmacy to pick up prescriptions, separately pick up vitamins and heath aids. All while not exactly knowing what insurance covers and what you will have to pay out of pocket until you get separate unrelated bills. That is now about to change.
The new Optum Store is a digital solution that helps save time and money by using health insurance plans or health savings accounts for online shopping and delivery.
Members can schedule a doctor or mental health professional visit, order prescriptions, COVID-19 tests and other health products online and have them delivered to their home.
Following online banking model
Remember how banking was 10 years ago? We used to go into the bank to deposit money, or make a withdrawal. Now many people never step inside a bricks and mortar bank, because they have the convenience of doing their banking online.
In the same way, with the Optum store, users can order certain healthcare services online including telehealth and mental health therapy visits. The new online store accepts UnitedHealthcare medical plans* or pharmacy insurance** as a payment option, allowing people to see what things will actually cost at the time of purchase — with their coverage
from health plans factored in. People without health insurance can also buy from the store.
Even with employer sponsored health insurance, people are increasingly responsible for managing their health dollars and forced to navigate a highly complex health care system, resulting in millions of people not receiving necessary care.
The Optum Store simplifies things, allowing members to input health insurance information once. Then based on coverage, discounts are automatically calculated for covered medications. That way when members shop, they see the actual price they have to pay, simplifying the process.
According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Americans spent $3.8 trillion on healthcare in 2019. This is expected to grow at an average rate of 5.4% per year. Rising costs have already caused nearly 44% of Americans to skip a doctor’s visit when they were sick or injured and nearly half to skip medication or treatment.
The Optum Store
The Optum Store is a consumer-focused answer to this problem. It can help your employees or clients’ employees save time and money on healthcare and related services. Once members sign up for the Optum Store online, they enter their insurance information only once. After the insurance information is submitted, prescription and virtual care service costs will reflect the plan’s coverage. It’s easy to compare the cost of paying with insurance to the Optum Store’s everyday low prices to help users decide how they want to pay.
The Optum Store makes the health care experience frictionless. The online store takes out another step, making it easier for a person to get health care necessities.
Booking is easy online
Find therapists you personally connect with and book therapy appointments straight from your phone or online. Switch therapists at any time, without a penalty fee. Licensed mental health specialists are available in every state. Free assessments are available at https://store.optum.com/virtual-care/mental-health/pre-assessment.
Starting at just $29 for the first month and $309 a month after that, members can book weekly 50-minute virtual therapy sessions or unlimited medication management appointments with doctors and nurse practitioners. Members can find a therapist, doctor or nurse practitioner who is available at their convenience. With virtual health care appointments, members can get convenient healthcare designed to support them, wherever they are. Whether traveling out of town or in a bind for time, users can schedule an appointment with one of our licensed providers.
There are same-day appointments available and cancellation is free. A wide selection of providers are available, and pricing is simple. Each appointment is $55 flat, with no extra or hidden fees.
While right now the Optum Store only accepts United Healthcare for this feature, the store plans to add other carriers in the future.
The Optum Store also offers prescriptions without having to go to a doctor’s visit for products to address things like birth control, erectile dysfunction, hair loss and latisse eye lash builder.
Have COVID-19 symptoms? Speak with a professional who can teach you how to treat symptoms at home, give guidance on self-isolation, when to retest, and determine if you need to seek in-person treatment. New laws also allow health insurance to cover up to eight FDA-authorized, at-home over-the-counter COVID-19 antigen tests every 30 days (or per calendar month) for covered family members. These tests can be ordered online and delivered free directly from Optum Store.
UnitedHealthcare Medical Insurance members can apply for eligible Optum Store purchases by taking the following steps:
1. Visit store.optum.com
2. Click the dropdown menu next to ‘Sign In’ and select ‘Create Account.’
3. Click on the dropdown menu next to your name
4. Select payment and provide the requested insurance information
It’s as simple as that!
No matter your health care needs, the new Optum Store offers a one stop shopping experience. We plan to continue adding services to make the shop an even more seamless experience.
The following company-sponsored medical plans are eligible: UnitedHealth Group HSA-eligible plans, Accountable Care Plan, Choice Transition, Hawaii PPO, Kelsey-Seybold Primary Care Plan, M Health Fairview Primary Care Plan, WellMed 1st Tier and OptumCare HSA Plan Options 1 and 2, OptumCare National Network Plan, OptumCare Plan and OptumCare Doctors Plan.
Plans that are not eligible: UnitedHealthcare of Nevada HMO, UnitedHealthcare of Nevada POS, SignatureValue, SignatureValue Advantage, SignatureValue Harmony and the Bind Plan.
DR. KATE WOLIN is vice president, Direct-to-Consumer at Optum. She is an entrepreneurial executive and behavioral epidemiologist. Following her academic medicine career, Wolin co-founded and served as CEO of a digital health start-up that was acquired by Anthem, Inc. She then served as Chief Science Officer of a population health platform company. Wolin has been an advisor to start-ups and enterprise organizations on bridging clinical and behavioral science with commercial product strategy and execution. Wolin earned her doctorate at the Harvard School of Public Health and completed her fellowship training at Northwestern, where she continues to mentor entrepreneurship students. Wolin is a Fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine and the American College of Sports Medicine.