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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

In The News

Fox Business News - Tips for Taking Health Care Tax Deductions - Mar 2013

Mobile Press Register - UnitedHealthcare Affiliate Offers Critical Illness Insurance Plan - Aug 2012

Daily Finance - How to Save On Health Insurance - Part 2 Individual Plans - Sep 2011

How to Save on Health Insurance: Part 2, Individual Plans

[Daily Finance — Loren Berlin / September 28, 2011 1:00 PM]

In part one of this series, I examined how people with employer-supplied health insurance can save money and maximize their benefits during open enrollment. But in today’s economy, when the unemployment rate is at almost 10% and companies are cutting back on benefits to save money, many millions of people are responsible for securing their own health insurance through individual plans.

“Unlike employer-offered health insurance, individuals can shop for insurance anytime. There’s no specific enrollment period,” says Michael Mahoney, vice president of consumer marketing at the insurance broker GoHealthInsurance.com. “That said, individuals pay 100% of the cost of coverage, as opposed to sharing that cost with the employer.” Selecting an individual plan that both suits your budget and provides adequate coverage can be tricky so I spoke with a few consumer health experts for tips on how to maximize benefits while minimizing costs.

Because there are some similarities between shopping for individual health care and employer-offered coverage, it’s worth checking out part one of this series, which provides a few key suggestions including how to educate yourself regarding health care terminology, compare treatment costs, determine your risk tolerance and take advantage of preventative care. Then you can review the list, which is tailored specifically to individual plans.

3. Be Sure You’re Selecting a Reputable Company
Just like any other industry, there are scams and financially shaky businesses in health care, so it’s important to do your homework. Once you find a plan you like, make sure the insurer is rated by A.M. Best or another major ratings agency. “Small health insurers go out of business all the time,” says Laden. “So do the commonsense stuff too. Ask family members and trusted friends about the companies they use.”

4. Understand the Plan You’re Buying
“There are all kinds of ways to combine different insurance products,” explains Mahoney. “So you need to make sure you don’t have any unwanted loopholes in your coverage. But you also want to make sure you don’t have overlapping coverage. The last thing you want is to pay twice for the same thing.”

Laden agrees. “Know what you’ll be responsible for paying before you sign up. Know what you’ll pay and what the insurer will pay. Any reputable company that you would do business with will be glad to answer those questions for you.”

Not sure where to go if you have questions about a plan? Most plans have phone numbers posted on their websites. You can also talk with a local, independent insurance broker in your town, or ask the agent who insures your car or home, as they often offer health insurance as well, and may be able to offer a discount for bundling your coverage. Also, online national brokers like eHealthinsurance.com or GoHealthinsurance.com have representatives available to answer your questions.

5. Be Careful About Timing
Before dropping your current plan, make sure you have not only applied for, but have also been approved for it and that the coverage has gone into effect. Otherwise, you run the risk of finding yourself uninsured.

6. Consider a Health Savings Account
Unlike a Flexible Spending Account, the funds of which must to be used up within the year and cannot be transferred between employers, money in a Health Savings Account can be rolled year after year if it’s unused. It’s a tax-free, interest-bearing bank account specifically for medical expenses, though there are limits on how much money can be deposited — for 2012, single coverage is capped at $3,100, and family coverage is capped at $6,250 for the tax year. “Health savings account plans let you save on both your health care and your taxes,” says Laden. “Particularly for self-employed individuals and their families, that becomes attractive. Another nice thing is that there is one deductible per family. Everybody in the family contributes to that one deductible so that helps you meet it a lot faster in that calendar year.”

7. Research Options for Preexisting Conditions
Consumers who have serious illnesses or medical conditions that might prevent them from getting coverage in the individual market today can go to www.pcip.gov and click on their state for the options available to them. As for consumers currently on COBRA who have serious illnesses or medical conditions that might prevent them from getting coverage in the individual market, Laden suggest that they “exhaust their COBRA coverage — generally 18 months — to preserve their HIPAA eligibility for coverage, regardless of the cost of COBRA (which, on average, is over $400 per month for an individual and over $1,100 a month for a family). However, they can place other family members in an individual or family plan while they remain on COBRA for the cost savings.”

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Fox Business News - Keys to Choosing the Right Health Insurance Coverage - Jun 2011

Detailed Information on Health Savings Accounts

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

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