Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Seven suggestions to help you get the most out of your health care benefits

Fully understanding how your health plan works can help improve your overall health, reduce your out-of-pocket costs and avoid surprise bills. Here are seven things you can do to get the most out of your health plan:

Learn the lingo – Make sure to understand basic health plan terms such as deductible, copay, coinsurance and out-of-pocket maximum. A recent UnitedHealthcare survey found that just 9 percent of Americans could successfully define all four of these important terms. Need a refresher course? If so, spend a few minutes to better understand common health insurance terms and your specific plan amounts to help you make more informed decisions.
Know what’s covered – You can usually find your coverage and benefits information on your insurer’s website or in plan documents so you know what’s covered and what’s not. Review this information before you start using your plan and receiving treatment so you’re not surprised by costs later.

Stay in network – Choosing doctors in your plan’s care provider network will most likely mean you’ll pay less. Also, check out 24/7 telehealth services. “Virtual visits” can help save you time and money by providing convenient access to care for certain medical issues including allergies, bronchitis and seasonal flu.

Save on medications Make sure your medications are covered by your plan, and ask your doctor about generics to see if there’s a more affordable and equally effective alternative. Also, getting prescriptions through the mail is often a good cost-saving option. Most plans enable you to order up to a three-month supply of medication you take regularly, sometimes at a discount. Your medication will be delivered right to your home, saving you a trip to the pharmacy.

Shop around and get cost estimates – Several health insurers offer online health care tools and resources that enable you to check on the quality and cost of health care services and care providers before you make appointments. Be sure to double-check the cost with your care provider before getting treatments, as prices can vary significantly for the same procedure within the same city.

 Take advantage of wellness programs – Many health plans offer discounts on gym memberships and provide financial incentives, some more than $1,000 per year, for completing health assessments, signing up for health coaching programs, lowering your cholesterol, losing weight, meeting walking goals or stopping smoking. Incentive-based wellness programs are designed to reward people for making healthier choices and being more engaged in improving their well-being. Some programs, including UnitedHealthcare Motion, include activity trackers that enable people to walk their way to improved health and up to $1,500 per year in incentives.  And others, like the UnitedHealthcare Healthy Savings Program provide monthly savings of up to $150 on healthy food items.

Look for medical grants Some charitable organizations offer child medical grants to middle- and low-income families who don’t qualify for Medicaid. For example, the UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) provides families with grants of up to $5,000 annually per child ($10,000 lifetime maximum per child). Recipients do not need to have insurance through UnitedHealthcare to be eligible. Since 2007, UHCCF has awarded more than 15,000 grants valued at over $40 million to children and their families across the United States. Families can read eligibility criteria and complete an online application at  

For more tips and easy-to-understand information about health care and health insurance, visit the UHC Newsroom.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

UnitedHealthcare now offering Healthy Savings® program to New York/New Jersey members

UnitedHealthcare is offering our New York and New Jersey members a new way to make healthy eating more affordable.

Starting today, we are offering the Healthy Savings® program to UnitedHealthcare and Oxford plan participants in New York and New Jersey. Healthy Savings, a program run by Minnesota-based technology company Solutran, Inc., enables UnitedHealthcare and Oxford members to save on healthier foods without having to clip, print, or download coupons. Each week, items are selected and available at a discount to members when they use their Healthy Savings card or free mobile app.
This program will help our members save more than $150 every month on their grocery budgets – and all they have to do is shop with an eye towards healthy foods! Here’s how it works: 

·         With Healthy Savings, there is no clipping, printing or downloading of coupons, as discounts are pre-loaded on accounts each week.

·         Users can scan their cards or mobile apps at checkout.

·         The discounts are instantly subtracted from their bill and are printed on their receipt.

·         Eligible participants can use the Healthy Savings program at any of the more than 180 Stop & Shop® and Western Beef® store locations.

According to America’s Health Rankings® Annual Report, 26 percent of adults in New York and 27 percent of adults in New Jersey are obese. Healthy Savings is designed to help people take steps toward a healthier diet.

UnitedHealthcare made Healthy Savings available last year to people enrolled in fully insured employer-based and individual health plans in parts of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia and Washington, D.C. To date, program participants have saved more than $1.4 million.
 You can learn more about this exciting new program by visiting or

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

UnitedHealthcare unveils signage on former POMCO building

UnitedHealthcare officially unveiled its new signage on the former POMCO building located at 2425 James Street in Syracuse’s Eastwood neighborhood at a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house.  Syracuse Deputy Mayor, Sharon Owens joined me and other UnitedHealthcare, UMR, community and business leaders for the official ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Last year, POMCO was acquired by and became a part of UMR, UnitedHealthcare’s third party administration solution.  The UnitedHealthcare office will support the self-funded medical and workers compensation plans for 3.6 million UMR members across the country. It will also be home to UMR’s risk management team and UnitedHealthcare’s dedicated commercial sales team for Central New York.
UnitedHealthcare and POMCO's agreement to integrate their third-party administration (TPA) business means clients of both organizations will benefit from customized, affordable solutions to their medical and workers compensation administration needs.  Our open house welcomed insurance brokers, UMR clients, business and community leaders; giving everyone a chance to strengthen our relationships in a relaxed and enjoyable setting.

A big thank you to Mary Catherine Lopez, a senior at Solvay High School in Onondaga County and an accomplished piano player.  Mary Catherine played beautifully on the baby grand piano that currently resides in the lobby of our building.  We recently donated the piano to the Syracuse City School District and it will soon be available to the students at Fowler High School on the west side of Syracuse.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

UnitedHealthcare Community Care Award

UnitedHealthcare knows that the contribution we make in communities extends beyond the service we deliver to our members.  That's why UnitedHealthcare awarded $10,000 to Digital Hyve, a Syracuse, NY based small business, as part of our Community Care Award competition.  The competition seeks the best new idea for enhancing community health and wellness.

Businesses with two to 250 employees in Oswego, Onondaga, Cortland, Madison and Oneida counties submitted project ideas for enhancing their communities' health and wellness.  The entries were narrowed down to five finalists who were invited to present their project ideas to a panel of business and health care leaders.  All projects were required to include a partnership with a local nonprofit organization. The five finalists included:
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension
  • Digital Hyve
  • Metro Fitness
  • Mobile Health Appraisal Services
  • Seven Valley's Health Coalition
The winning project from Digital Hyve benefits the Food Bank of Central New York, a non-profit organization working to eliminate hunger through nutritious food distribution, education and advocacy.  Digital Hyve's project is designed to increase access to and utilization of the food bank's mobile pantry and raise awareness of the food bank among potential donors through the use of digital marketing platforms.  The project will take advantage of the food bank's first direct distribution model to bring mostly perishable food into areas of need.
Proud to present ceremonial check to Lynn Hy, CNY Food Bank and Jeff Knaus, co-founder Digital Hyve 

Local business, community and clinical leaders who served as judges for the competition were:
  • Mitchell Brodey, M.D., Family Care Medical Group, PC
  • Frank Caliva, senior vice president and chief operating officer, CenterState CEO
  • Andrew Gordon, senior vice president and chief human resource officer, Syracuse University
  • Nancy Kern Eaton, president, United Way of Central New York
  • Leola Rodgers, president and CEO,  Syracuse Community Health Center, Inc.
The judges had the toughest job of the night...selecting a winner!

Assemblymember Pamela Hunter, a dedicated public servant representing the 128th district of the New York State Assembly which includes Salina, DeWitt and Onondaga was on hand to congratulate the finalists and show her support of our inaugural event.
I'm joined by Assemblymember Hunter and UHC and UMR colleagues Camilo Barrera and Don Napier

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Three do’s and two don’ts to help you prepare for open enrollment and save on health care costs

More than 4 million UnitedHealthcare members across the state of New York are evaluating their health benefits plan during this open enrollment season. 
Here are three do’s and two don’ts to help you get the most out of your health benefits and better understand how to use your health care dollars.
  1.       Do know your open enrollment dates
Open enrollment isn’t the same or at the same time for everyone, so there are key dates to keep in mind depending on your situation:

·         For the more than 177 million Americans with employer-provided coverage, many companies set aside a two-week period between September and December when employees can select health benefits for the following year.

·         For the more than 58 million seniors and other people enrolled in Medicare, their Open Enrollment runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 each year.

·         Health insurance marketplace or individual state exchange open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.
 For most people, changes made to coverage during open enrollment take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

2.       Do take time to review your optionsEvery person or family has unique health and budget needs, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to selecting a health plan.  Confirm that your current coverage still meets your needs and if your benefits will change next year.  If your plan options are changing, select a new plan that is a good fit for your budget, and pay attention to more than just the monthly premium. You should also understand the other out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, copays and coinsurance.
3.      Do make sure your doctor is in your health plan’s provider network  and be aware of different care settings
Even if you don’t make any changes to your health insurance this year, it’s still a good idea to ensure that any doctor you see regularly – or plan to visit in the coming year – is in your benefit plan’s care provider network.  
Also, check if your plan includes 24/7 telehealth services for consultations on minor health issues.  Often, telehealth – defined as online, or virtual, visits with a doctor over a computer, tablet or mobile phone – is available to people enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans and group Medicare Advantage plans, as well as select individual Medicare Advantage plans. Virtual visits may provide convenient and affordable access to care for minor medical issues, including allergies, bronchitis and seasonal flu.
Finally, if you experience a significant or serious medical issue go to the ER, but for non-emergency care, be aware of alternative settings. Visits to the emergency room can cost patients up to 10-times more than a visit to urgent care or other care settings, so comparing where to go for care could save $1,500 or more per treatment.
 4.       Don’t forget about additional benefits
Additional benefits such as dental, vision, accident or critical-illness insurance are often affordable options that can protect you and your family from head to toe.  For people enrolled in Medicare, many are surprised to find that Original Medicare doesn’t cover prescription drugs and most dental, vision and hearing services. But many Medicare Advantage plans do, often at a $0 monthly premium beyond the premium for Original Medicare.
 5.       Don’t Leave financial incentives on the table
Some health plans offer discounts on gym memberships and provide financial incentives for completing health assessments, signing up for health coaching programs, lowering your cholesterol, losing weight, meeting walking goals, or stopping smoking. Programs are designed to reward people for making healthy choices and being more engaged in improving their health. 
For help navigating open enrollment, visit for articles and videos with easy-to-understand information about health benefits and health insurance terms.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

UnitedHealth Group shows up for Shatterproof

There is no easy solution to the opioid epidemic but, UnitedHealth Group is responding in a variety of ways. By combining our health data and analytics capabilities, our medical and behavioral health expertise and our diversified business portfolio, we offer a range of effective programs and services to play a role in tackling this epidemic. We are continually developing new, research-driven programs and services to address the opioid epidemic’s rapidly changing conditions, which vary widely from state to state and community to community.  And, our employee’s show-up, when needed, to support community based organizations.
On Sunday, October 1st I joined members of my team and hundreds of New Yorkers for a 5K run along Hudson River Park in support of Shatterproof.  It was a beautiful run along the Hudson River and I was happy to see the many companies, families and furry friends who were also there to support an important health initiative.
Shatterproof is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and combating the stigma that prevents people from getting the treatment and support they need for the disease of addiction.  UnitedHealth Group provided a grant to the organization for the development of parent support groups that will help families find the proper evidenced-based care for their loved ones and also get support as they navigate the complicated disease of addiction.
For more information about Shatterproof and their upcoming fundraising events in Boston, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta visit them at Shatterproof.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Sports & Fitness Day at the Bronx Academy of Letters

UnitedHealthcare’s Team 8 Tour is a national campaign aimed at encouraging young people across the country to make healthy choices, build character and learn critical life lessons that will inspire them to be a catalyst for positive social change. In partnership with The Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, and CBS Eco Media, the Tour made a stop at the Bronx Academy of Letters last week. The visit focused on the community’s needs for increased sports and fitness opportunities, improved school facilities, and healthier food options.

UnitedHealthcare employee volunteers helped install new fitness equipment, decorated lockers, beautified the school’s front entrance and upgraded the school’s community garden.  In addition, they participated in a sports clinic with student athletes and coaches and, in collaboration with Revolution Foods, lead a group of students in healthy meal preparation.   

In 2016, its inaugural year, the Team8 Tour, reached more than 10,000 students and families in support of 18 local community organizations. Additionally, over $100,000 worth of fitness gear was donated to promote healthy and active lifestyles. The first four stops of the 2017 Team8 Tour were completed in Baltimore, MD, Immokalee, FL, and Greensboro & High Point, NC earlier this year.

The Team8 Tour has inspired young people in our communities to take charge of their health, get involved and make a difference in their communities. UnitedHealthcare is honored to have contributed to such an important community program.

Hall of Fame baseball great Cal Ripkin Jr. (center) joins Team8 leaders along with Dr. Adam Aponte, medical director, UHC Community Plan and Shannon Loecher, social responsibility, UnitedHealthcare