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UnitedHealth (UNH) Introduces New Medical Plan for 2017


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Minnesota-based Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH - Analyst Report) recently introduced its 2017 Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans. These plans are based on its successful 2016 medical plan. The 2016 medical plan not only reflected the persistently stable Medicare Advantage premiums but also the benefits reaped by customers through low-premium prescription drug plans.

The new medical plan – AARP MedicareRx Walgreens (PDP) – primarily focuses on customers looking for peace of mind. The Part D prescription drug plans are slated to serve these customers by providing them the convenience of shopping at their neighborhood from more than 8,000 locations of Walgreens across the nation.

Notably, Walgreens and Duane Reade are the plan’s preferred retail pharmacy chains that are included in the Retail Pharmacy USA Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (WBA - Analyst Report) . Apart from convenience, these pharmacies offer a low rate of premium at $22.50 as well as no co-pays for tier 1 medications and no deductible for tier 1 and 2 medications purchased. This low cost Part D plans are apt for customers who prefer more affordable care.

This alliance between UnitedHealth and Walgreens is expected to provide customers with a premium quality healthcare solution that is both convenient and affordable. Like other HMO’s such as Humana Inc (HUM - Analyst Report) , Aetna Inc (AET - Analyst Report) , UnitedHealth’s profitability too has been suffering due to high cost of prescription drugs. However, the new initiatives should come as a respite for cost-conscious customers, in turn improving the growth prospects of these companies.

The new plan can easily be combined with other AARP Medicare Rx stand-alone Part D plans – AARP MedicareRx Preferred (PDP) and AARP MedicareRx Saver Plus (PDP). Those combined plans are likely to offer more customized prescription drug coverage to meet the specific needs of customers.

The another component of the 2017 medical plan, – Medicare Advantage plans – are expected to offer choice, access to quality care and a superior experience to customers.

UnitedHealth intends to introduce Medicare Advantage plans in more than 160 counties in 2017. Almost 2 millions of additional beneficiaries will gain access to this opportunity. Like the Part D plans, these Medicare Advantage plans will also combine affordability with convenience and offer greater flexibility. More than 90% of members and over 80% Medicare-eligible people in the company’s coverage area will be able to avail two or more of these plans in 2017. Moreover, roughly 30 millions of Medicare beneficiaries under the company’s coverage area and nearly 90% of its Medicare Advantage members will be able to access this plan with a no premium in 2017.

Furthermore, approximately 80% members enrolled in these plans that have received four out of five stars for 2017 in the CMS Star Rating system. The members will also have access to affordable preventive care beyond the annual wellness visit at no co-pays for visits with primary care physicians available with many plans. The UnitedHealthcare’s HouseCalls program would enable people to receive annual wellness check-ups in the comfort of their own home at no additional cost.

More than 2.5 million people enrolled in these plans are likely to be treated by physicians who actively participate in value-based, collaborative programs. More than 115,000 of members in Nevada, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Kentucky and Ohio will have the option of virtual telemedicine appointments with primary care doctors by 2017. Access to a 24/7 nurse line for help regarding urgent health issues is another part of this plan.

The plan also ensures superior experience as most of the enrolled members will enjoy lower to zero premiums. With the help of its customer service advocates who use predictive analytics to understand customers’ needs and references, the company expects to schedule 200,000 doctors’ appointments for its members by the end of 2016.

In addition, members can enjoy fitness membership at no extra cost for regular exercise and other wellness practices. UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage members are further expected to redeem more than 400,000 rewards in 2016.

Apart from its Medicare Advantage and Part D plans, UnitedHealthcare is positioned as the provider of Medicare supplement insurance. The company serves more than 4.2 million beneficiaries through a wide variety of competitively priced plans endorsed by AARP. UnitedHealth presently carries Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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