self-funded, employer-sponsored health plan, healthcare spending, price transparency

UHC Rebrands Self-Funded Health Plan, Focus on Price Transparency

By Kelsey Waddill

– UnitedHealthcare has announced that it has rebranded its self-funded health plan option, which will now be called Surest but which will maintain its focus on price transparency and affordability.

Surest was originally “Bind,” a self-funded employer option that started in 2016. Since then, the plan is UnitedHealthcare’s fastest-growing employer-sponsored health plan.

“People and employers are looking for a simpler and more sustainable health care plan,” Alison Richards, chief executive officer of Surest, said in the press release. “Our new brand name, Surest, helps convey the idea of clarity, confidence and control our members have with their plan.”

The Surest plans feature price transparency tools and no deductibles or coinsurance. 

The Surest plans include an app that allows members to review prices for over 490 services. Perhaps as a result of this feature, more members elected to visit lower-cost healthcare professionals. More than eight times out of ten, Surest health plan members chose the most cost-effective treatment option, according to an accompanying infographic.

UnitedHealthcare reported that, due to reduced financial barriers, Surest plan members’ virtual visit utilization was ten times higher than utilization for Doctor on Demand. Surest plan members boasted six percent fewer visits to the emergency room compared and 23 percent fewer inpatient surgeries. 

The net promoter score for Surest plans exceeded industry benchmarks in 2021. This may be in part due to the decrease in out-of-pocket healthcare spending: members saw a 44 percent decrease in out-of-pocket healthcare spending with Surest health plan coverage compared to high deductible health plans, the payer reported.

For the more than 150 employers who use Surest plans, UnitedHealthcare data indicated that they also saved. The cost per member per month was 15 percent less than high deductible health plans.

UnitedHealthcare anticipated that more employers will add Surest health plans as an option for their employees during the 2023 enrollment season.

The health plans are available to fully-insured consumers with 51 employees or more. They are also available to self-funded employers, which are mostly implemented by large employers due to the high level of risk that they absorb.

For fully-insured employers, the health plans are available in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Virginia. UnitedHealthcare announced plans to expand into five more states in 2022.

Surest plans join many payers in making healthcare price transparency tools available for members. 

Data shows that 70 percent of consumers are finding price transparency tools more accessible in 2022, primarily through employer-sponsored health plans. Awareness about these tools is growing as well, with only eight percent of consumers being unsure about whether their health plans offer price transparency tools. 

Over two-thirds of those who had access to transparency tools used them and most of the consumers who leveraged these tools found them useful for understanding coverage, informing their decision-making, and managing healthcare spending.

During the pandemic, small employers were drawn to self-funded health plans—and level-funded health plans in particular—even for companies with only a couple of employees. 

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