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Federal Government Announces Final Rule on Short Term Health Insurance - August 2018

Indianapolis (August 23, 2018) - On August 3, 2018, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury published a Final Rule in response to the president’s October 2017 Executive Order. This final rule addresses a number of issues surrounding short term health insurance, also sometimes called temporary health insurance or short term limited duration insurance.

 

The Final Rule discusses plan term lengths, addresses the issue of renewing coverage, and redrafts a required notice that must appear on short term insurance application materials and contracts.

  • It returns short term plan durations to the 364-day term length allowed prior to 2017
  • It allows a 36-month maximum duration of renewable coverage
  • It indicates a required notice regarding the limitations of short term health insurance that must be displayed on application materials and contracts

 

The new regulations outlined in the Final Rule apply to short term plans with effective dates starting October 2, 2018, and after. States still have the final authority to apply the federal rule or create their own regulations around short term plans, so plan benefits and durations could vary by state.

 

You can view the entire Final Rule regarding short term insurance at the Federal Register website.

Current Golden Rule Grandfathered and Non-Grandfathered Health Plans to Continue in 2019 – July 2018

Indianapolis (July 20, 2018) - People with UnitedHealthOne® Golden Rule Insurance Company non-grandfathered health insurance plans can keep their current plans without further Affordable Care Act (ACA) changes through December 31, 2019, an extension known as "transitional relief."

This means those with a non-grandfathered health plan can simply keep paying their premium to maintain their current coverage. Keeping their current coverage means they will be able to:

  • Continue using their current network of doctors and hospitals
  • Meet the ACA's requirement to maintain "minimum essential coverage" (MEC) and avoid any tax penalty for not having compliant coverage

Members of non-grandfathered health plans will hear from Golden Rule in advance of any required future ACA changes.

To see if your state is honoring transitional relief, check here.

Similarly, customers with UnitedHealthOne® Golden Rule Insurance Company grandfathered health insurance plans can continue their current coverage without further ACA changes as well, as long as they don't make any changes that would change the plan’s grandfathered status and continue to pay their premiums.

UnitedHealthOne® is a brand name used for some UnitedHealthcare individual insurance products. UnitedHealthcare and UnitedHealthOne® family and individual insurance plans are underwritten by Golden Rule Insurance Company, an affiliate of UnitedHealthcare.

Traveling with Medicare? Check Your Coverage Before Your Trip – July 2018

Indianapolis (July 20, 2018) - If you’re going out of the country and have Medicare coverage of any kind, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) advises you to check before you go what (if any) coverage you have while you’re traveling.

  • If you have Original Medicare, meaning Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance), along with Part D prescription drug coverage, generally that coverage will not apply outside of the country, except in a few very specific cases.
  • If you have added a Medicare supplement (Medigap) plan to your Original Medicare coverage, you may have some emergency health insurance coverage while you are out of the country. Check your Medigap plan for details.
  • Similarly, if you have chosen to get your Medicare Parts A and B coverage through a Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage) plan, you may have some emergency or urgent care health insurance coverage when you are traveling abroad. Again, you’ll need to check your plan for details.

If you’re approaching your Medicare initial enrollment period and planning travel out of the country on a regular basis, take that into consideration when choosing the Medicare coverage you want. Look for plans that give you the flexibility you need.

Finally, if you don’t feel you have the coverage you need for a trip, find a travel insurance product that includes health insurance to provide that temporary health coverage.

For more detailed information on Medicare and travel outside the United States, see Medicare.gov.

Quick Guide to Storing and Disposing of Opioids – May 2018

Indianapolis (May 30, 2018) - According to the American Medical Association, more than 70 percent of people misusing opioid painkillers first got them from family or friends. And the risk to children is rising. As abuse of opioids grows, safely storing these drugs in your home and getting rid of them when you’re done is key.

Storing opioids safely

According to the American Association of Family Physicians you can store your opioids safely if you keep the following in mind:

  • Store medicine out of reach of all children – toddlers through teens – in a locked cabinet or lockbox.
  • Keep medicine in its original package.
  • Keep track of how much medicine you have taken and how much is left.
  • If you think someone took your opioid medicine, report it to police.

Getting rid of your opioids

If you are done taking an opioid, don't keep any leftovers to use in the future. Both pill and patch opioids often come with disposal instructions.

A good way to get rid of unused medicine is through a "take-back" event. The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and local police host take-back events in many cities nationwide. You can also visit the DEA Office of Diversion Control's website at www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov or call the agency's call center at 1-800-882-9539 to find a location. Many larger pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens offer take-back services and/or special disposal bags. Local waste management companies also can direct you to a take-back program.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicates you can also dispose of drugs yourself at any time with these steps:

  1. Remove personal information (your name, address, etc.) from the original container and dispose of it.
  2. Remove medicine from the original container and place in another container, such as a plastic bag.
  3. Add water to medicine and mix with coffee grounds or cat litter.
  4. Seal the bag and place in the trash.
  5. The FDA recommends flushing opioid patches after folding the sticky sides together.

Sources of information for this article and where you can go to learn more include the American Medical AssociationAmerican Association of Family PhysiciansU.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

Warby Parker and UnitedHealthcare Collaborate to Offer Designer Prescription Eyewear at Affordable Prices - May 2018

Indianapolis (May 17, 2018) – People choosing UnitedHealthcare vision plans in 2018 may be able to purchase prescription eyeglasses for as little as their copay thanks to a collaboration between Warby Parker and UnitedHealthcare.

This marks the first time Warby Parker has accepted vision insurance, and they’re working with UnitedHealthcare. “Warby Parker is constantly exploring new ways to provide people access to affordable, high-quality and fashionable eyewear,” said Dave Gilboa, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker. “We are pleased to work with UnitedHealthcare to enable millions of Americans nationwide to purchase their glasses at a fraction of the price they might pay through traditional channels.”

Individual vision plan participants can access Warby Parker’s designer prescription eyewear at affordable prices online or at any of the more than 50 stores nationwide. UnitedHealthcare individual vision plan members can use their benefits online at Warby Parker by going here and selecting the UnitedHealthcare icon.

“Warby Parker and UnitedHealthcare will help more Americans access designer eyewear at affordable prices to help meet the eye care needs of the people we serve,” said Tom Wiffler, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Specialty Benefits. “We are grateful Warby Parker selected UnitedHealthcare to be its first in-network vision plan.”

About Warby Parker

Warby Parker was founded with a rebellious spirit and a lofty objective: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses. Every idea starts with a problem. Theirs was simple: glasses are too expensive. By circumventing traditional channels, designing glasses in-house, and engaging with customers directly, they’re able to provide higher-quality, better-looking prescription eyewear starting at $95 (a fraction of the going price).

Warby Parker also believes that everyone has the right to see. Almost one billion people worldwide lack access to glasses, which means that 15% of the world’s population cannot effectively learn or work. To help address this problem, Warby Parker partners with non-profits like VisionSpring to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @UHC on Twitter.

New Exemptions for Health Insurance Tax Penalty in 2018 - May 2018

Indianapolis (May 15, 2018) - Recent rules from the federal government have added four new hardship exemptions for the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate for 2018. 

One portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the individual mandate, which requires consumers pay a penalty for not having health insurance.

From the time ACA was enacted, there were exemptions to the individual mandate for various reasons, including certain hardships. However, the federal government has added four new exceptions for 2018, and retroactively for tax years 2017 and 2016.

The four new hardship exemptions are for people who:

  • Live in a location where no ACA marketplace plans are available.
  • Live in a location where only one insurer sells marketplace plans.
  • Believe abortion is contrary to their beliefs and can't find a marketplace plan that doesn't cover abortion.
  • Have personal circumstances, including needing access to specialty care, that make it difficult for them to buy a marketplace plan because they can’t find a plan in their area with access to the specialty care they need.

If any of these new categories apply, you can apply for an exemption from your individual mandate tax penalty.

Also, if you qualify for the new exemptions and paid an ACA individual mandate tax penalty for tax years 2016 or 2017, you can receive a refund on any tax penalty you paid by getting marketplace approval or your exemption and filing an amended tax return.

Read more about the exemptions from CMS.

Be Aware — Elimination of Health Insurance Tax Penalty Takes Effect in 2019, not 2018 - May 2018

Indianapolis (May 15, 2018) - In December 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law a tax bill that eliminated the tax penalty the Affordable Care Act (ACA) imposed for not having qualifying health insurance during a given year. Many thought that repeal of the ACA’s penalty took place immediately, that is, for the tax year 2018. That’s not the case.

The repeal of the ACA tax penalty does not take effect until 2019. So, starting with tax year 2019 the penalty for not having health insurance will be gone.

However, for 2018, you’re still subject to a tax penalty if you don’t purchase minimum essential coverage health insurance for the year or if you don’t qualify for an exemption from the penalty (uninsured for under three months, income low enough you don’t file a federal return, etc.).

You can learn more about possible exemptions to the tax penalty at HealthCare.gov or in recently released information about exemptions for 2018. However, in most cases, you are still subject to the ACA tax penalty until it’s eliminated in 2019.

CMS Sends New Medicare Cards to Help Prevent Fraud and Identity Theft - March 2018

Indianapolis (March 28, 2018) - Starting April 1, 2018, and running through April 1, 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will mail new Medicare cards to members. The new cards will no longer include the Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) containing individuals' Social Security numbers. Instead, a new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) number will be assigned to each individual by CMS. These actions were taken in an effort to prevent fraud and protect beneficiaries from medical identity theft.

UnitedHealthcare does not use Social Security numbers or HICNs on its ID cards, so UnitedHealthcare ID cards will not change.

Visit the CMS website to learn more about the new Medicare cards.

New Federal Rule Proposes Raising Short Term Health Insurance Maximum Coverage Duration - Feb 2018

Indianapolis (February 27, 2018) - On February 21, 2018, the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury issued a proposed rule in response to President Trump's October 2017 Executive Order. This proposed rule …

  • Addresses the term length of short-term, limited-duration insurance (STLDI) by proposing the definition of STLDI return to a term of coverage less than 12 months, rather than the current definition with a maximum term of less than three months.
  • Redrafts the required disclosure for STLDI application forms and policies to reinforce the need for individuals to understand that STLDI coverage does not comply with federal requirements for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The proposed rule now enters the review and comment period for regulators and other key stakeholders to submit comments by April 23, 2018. The current recommendation by the Departments is to have this become effective 60 days after publication of the final rule.

In the meantime Golden Rule Insurance Company, a UnitedHealthcare company, continues to offer Short Term Medical plans that offer nearly three months of coverage and can help bridge health insurance gaps now.

A fact sheet from CMS with information about the proposed policy changes can be found here.

UnitedHealthcare Vision Plans Rank Highest in Customer Satisfaction in J.D. Power Study - Jan 2018

Minnetonka, Minnesota (Jan. 9, 2018) – UnitedHealthcare Vision plans rank highest in customer satisfaction among the nation’s vision carriers, according to the J.D. Power 2017 Vision Plan Satisfaction Report SM. This marks the fourth time in five years that UnitedHealthcare Vision has earned the highest ranking among vision plans.

This year’s report is based on responses from more than 1,300 vision plan participants nationwide, measuring customer satisfaction based on coverage, cost, communication, customer service and reimbursement. UnitedHealthcare’s cumulative score was the highest of the plans analyzed.

“UnitedHealthcare’s local-market focus and national resources enable us to meet the eye health needs of more than 19 million Americans across the country,” said Tom Wiffler, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Specialty Benefits. “We are grateful for this recognition from the people we serve.”

Consumers have benefited from UnitedHealthcare’s investments in mobile technology, including the ability for plan participants to obtain an identification card and look up nearby network health care providers on mobile devices.

UnitedHealthcare continues to develop innovative programs that harness the power of data and value of a holistic approach to health benefits. For example, UnitedHealthcare’s Bridge2Health® program enables eligible employers nationwide to integrate medical benefits with ancillary plans, such as dental, vision, critical illness and disability, helping influence better health outcomes, improve productivity and lower costs. 

More information about the vision report is available here.

About J.D. Power

J.D. Power is a global marketing information services company providing performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power has offices in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power is a business unit of McGraw-Hill Financial. 

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @UHC on Twitter.

Health Savings Account Tax Season Tips - Mar 2016

Tax Season Tip: It’s Not Too Late to Contribute to a Health Savings Account and Maximize Your 2015 Tax Savings

HSACenter.com helps consumers maximize the advantages of an HSA with tips and interactive tools that educate about tax benefits for 2015 and guide health care savings planning in 2016

Indianapolis Mar. 30, 2016 – As the tax filing deadline approaches, consumers with health savings accounts (HSAs) are reminded that they have until Monday, April 18, to make 2015 contributions up to the legal limit and increase their tax savings. This year’s deadline is a departure from the traditional April 15 filing date.

To help the growing number of consumers who have HSAs either through their employer or purchased individually, www.HSACenter.com recently expanded and enhanced its features to help them better understand the power of HSAs and the potential cost and tax savings.

HSAs combine a high-deductible health insurance plan with a tax-favored savings account. Money in the savings account can help pay deductibles and other qualified health expenses, including those not always covered by a major medical plan, such as dental and vision care costs. There is no “use it or lose it” provision at the end of the year with an HSA – the money saved earns interest and continues to accumulate year over year.’

HSAs also deliver triple tax benefits:

  1. Contributions are 100 percent tax-deductible up to the annual limit, just like an IRA, so contribute the maximum amount. For 2015, that’s $3,350 for an individual and $6,650 for a family. Those over 55 can make an additional contribution of $1,000/year.
  2. Account interest accumulates over the years tax-deferred, allowing consumers to decide when to spend and when to save.
  3. Withdrawals are tax-free as long as they are used for qualified medical expenses, even in retirement.

Dedicated to HSA education and helping consumers gain greater control over their health care, HSACenter.com now includes:

  • Responsive design and navigation: For convenience, HSAcenter.com can now be accessed from a laptop, tablet or mobile device, and a new video serves as a guide to the site.
  • New search functionality: It’s easier than ever for consumers to find what they are looking for on the site.
  • Three interactive calculators: Estimating savings now and in the future happens in a snap with three enhanced calculators.
  • Case studies: “People Like Me” case studies illustrating how families have benefitted from HSAs, helping consumers get even more from a visit.
  • Detailed FAQ: Find answers to the most frequently asked questions and reference an updated list of qualified medical expenses.

HSACenter.com was designed to help consumers learn more about HSAs and how they work, and features user-friendly tools that allow them to estimate the cost- and tax savings – now and over time – before deciding if an HSA is the best choice for their families. HSACenter.com is presented as an educational resource by UnitedHealthcare’s Golden Rule Insurance Company and UnitedHealthcare Life Insurance Company, which offer health insurance plans and ancillary products to individuals and families.

About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, military service members, retirees and their families, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 850,000 physicians and care professionals, and 6,000 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at www.uhc.com or follow @myUHC on Twitter.

Tips To Maximize Your HSA Infographic - Mar 2016

Detailed Information on Health Savings Accounts

Find out more about health savings accounts at www.HSAcenter.com

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