The healthcare insurance market is a tricky one to navigate. We all know that it is a necessary part of life because medical bills and other expenses can quickly add up in an accident, illness, or injury. UnitedHealthcare is a major player in the health insurance industry. Here we provide an overview of this company and information about its offerings and value compared to similar companies.
UnitedHealthcare is part of UnitedHealth Group and has been around for more than 40 years. They state that their mission is to improve the value of healthcare by reducing the total cost of care and enhancing the quality of care received.
Currently, the company serves more than 26.5 million Americans through their employer and individual plans, more than 13 million senior citizens with their Medicare and Retirement plans, and their “Community & State” program for the economically disadvantaged serves 7.7 million people. These facts make them the largest health insurer in the United States in terms of revenue, and in 2021 the company generated over 257 billion dollars.
Overview of Individual Health Insurance Plans Provided By UnitedHealthcare
Here we briefly discuss the offerings available for individuals to purchase through UnitedHealthcare. Employer plans are not discussed as they are company-specific and only available to employees, not directly for purchase by individuals or families.
What Types of Insurance Plans Does UnitedHealthcare Offer?
UnitedHealthcare offers the following types of plans to individuals and families:
- Health Insurance Plans
- Short-term Health Benefits
- Dental Plans
- Vision Plans
- Supplemental Insurance Plans
- Affordable Care Act (ACA) Plans
- Medicare Plans
As you can see, their offerings are plentiful and meet the needs of many Americans and their circumstances.
Individual and Family Health Insurance Plans
For individuals and their families younger than the age of 65, various options are available to meet their needs. When you visit the UnitedHealthcare website, you simply enter a few details about yourself, your geographic location, and your individual needs. The plans for which you qualify will show. These options may include the following:
This option is available in select states and is a 3-year duration insurance offering. It is a good option for individuals and families looking for quality insurance coverage versus just cheap coverage. It provides coverage for preventative and prescriptions, has a large in-network group of providers and hospitals, and offers an affordable copay for injury or illness office visits. Another convenience is applying for it year-round, not just during the yearly open enrollment period.
Student Health Insurance Plan
This plan is offered to currently-enrolled college students and can be a more affordable option than other plans, sometimes even more than staying on a parent’s employer plan. It offers students low-cost deductibles and premiums and gives them access to one of the largest networks of physicians, behavioral health specialists, and hospitals. Students can also be covered for virtual visits and on-site health clinics at school and when traveling abroad.
Short-Term Insurance Plans
Short-term insurance is a good option if you’re looking to fill gaps in health insurance during a transition in life, such as a job change or if you are not within an open enrollment period. You will also hear this option referred to as temporary health insurance or term health insurance. The options available through UnitedHealthcare allow you to:
- Pick deductible amounts
- Obtain coverage within a day after applying for it (in most cases)
- Choose coverage from 1 month up to 12 months (terms vary by state)
In addition, if a permanent insurance option becomes available during the term you selected, you can drop the coverage without having a penalty.
UnitedHealthcare Insurance Plans
Sometimes overlooked when purchasing insurance due to extra cost, dental and vision plans can be an important part of your overall healthcare coverage. Unexpected expenses in both categories can cause financial hardship, so having coverage can give you peace of mind that you will not have to pay a lot out of pocket if something major occurs. UnitedHealthcare offers options in these categories to meet individuals’ needs and budgets.
You can choose from either a basic plan that focuses on preventative maintenance or the Dental Premier plan that offers a complete level of coverage and will include major care such as root canals and other more-complicated dental procedures. Some plans are specifically available for senior citizens on Medicare plans that do not include dental benefits.
Eye health is also something that you should not overlook, and a vision plan can cover routine eye exams and extras such as glasses or contact lenses. UnitedHealthcare offers plans that allow you to properly budget for these services. You can take advantage of a large network of providers and use your benefits outside of the network by paying the difference.
UnitedHealthcare allows you to purchase both dental and vision plans as stand-alone options and offers combined dental and vision insurance plans to save money.
Other Supplemental UnitedHealthcare Insurance Plans
In addition to vision and dental, there are various other types of supplemental insurance that UnitedHealthcare provides, allowing subscribers to customize plans to meet their needs, budget, and lifestyle. The other offerings include the following:
- Hospitalization Insurance
- Hospital and Doctor Fixed Indemnity Insurance
- Accident Insurance
- International Travel Insurance
- Critical Illness Insurance
- Term Life Insurance
Affordable Care Act (ACA) Plans
You can shop for plans on the Individual and Family Marketplace during the open-enrollment period through UnitedHealthcare. These plans are affordable, and some families and individuals qualify for very low and, in some cases, a $0 monthly premium for reliable coverage. These plans also cannot refuse coverage for pre-existing conditions. Note that these plans are not available in all states and may not be an option through UnitedHealthcare, where you live.
UnitedHealthcare offers coverage options through COBRA if you lose your work-sponsored coverage due to a job loss, furlough, or reduced hours. It allows you to continue the same coverage you had while employed.
If you are over 65 or qualify because of a disability, you can obtain Medicare coverage through UnitedHealthcare. The UnitedHealthcare Medicare plans are the only ones that have the AARP name associated with them. These plans include the original and basic coverage plans and supplemental plans covering prescription, drugs, dental, and Dual Special Needs.
If you have a low income, you may qualify for Medicaid plans through UnitedHealthcare. In addition, this offering is available to pregnant women, children, older people, and people with disabilities.
How Does UnitedHealthcare Compare With Other Large Health Insurance Companies?
As mentioned before, UnitedHealthcare is the largest health insurer in the United States. Following closely behind are Anthem and Kaiser Permanente. The table below compares some of the important criteria that individuals consider when deciding which company to choose:
As you can see from the table, all three companies have an outstanding rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). They are reliable and trustworthy companies to have your business. They are also all financially strong, based on their revenue. Anthem has been shown to have slightly less expensive coverage in general than UnitedHealthcare and Kaiser Permanente, but it depends on various individual factors and plans chosen. Of the three options, the Anthem app seems to be the least user-friendly one.
Final Review of UnitedHealthcare Insurance
Based on our overview and analysis, UnitedHealthcare Insurance is a leader in the health insurance market and has offerings to meet many different needs. Its revenue alone is over 100 billion dollars more than the second-largest health insurance company.
Here’s a quick recap of some of the main pros and cons of UnitedHealthcare Insurance.
- Very financially strong company.
- Available nationwide. UnitedHealthcare has options in every single state.
- A large variety of quality options with customizations to meet the needs of many individuals and circumstances.
- Has benefits for Medicare and Medicaid recipients.
- Holds an A + BBB rating.
- Highly-rated mobile app for users who prefer accessing their plans and filing claims from their mobile devices.
- Many subscribers (>90%) renew their coverage each year, suggesting high satisfaction.
- There are many in-network providers to choose from due to their large size and nationwide presence.
- The available plans tend to be a bit more pricey than other companies.
- Does not sell Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans in some states.
- Has had some issues regarding denying and delaying claim payments.
- Some customers claim that the customer service experience is lacking. They are not completely satisfied with their claim-handling process or the speed at which they are processed (This category of complaints is the largest for the company).
The American Medical Association (AMA) recently filed a lawsuit against UnitedHealthcare regarding its reimbursement rates.
The bottom line is that you should feel confident purchasing healthcare insurance from UnitedHealthcare due to its long history as a company, solid financial security, and many customizable offerings. However, if you are focused on a personalized customer-care experience, are overwhelmed by the number of offerings, are looking for extremely inexpensive coverage, or don’t like dealing with a very large company, you may want to consider other available options.