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Actions to Support Providers During COVID-19 National Emergency

UnitedHealthcare is taking a number of steps to support you, your patients and your communities during this health crisis. We’ll be regularly updating you on these actions on the provider COVID-19 website and through ongoing emails. Highlights of these key actions are summarized below for your easy reference.

For Providers

In addition to our previous announcement of expanded telehealth services, we’re working to improve access to care, decrease your administrative processes, help address the short-term financial pressure caused by the COVID-19 national emergency and reduce the financial impact to members.

Accelerating Payments
On April 7, 2020, UnitedHealth Group announced steps to accelerate nearly $2 billion in payments and other financial support to care providers. This includes accelerated claim payments to medical and behavioral care providers in UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and Individual and Group Market fully insured health plans. Learn More and read the Wall Street Journal article about this announcement.

Providing Guidance on Telehealth Claim Submissions
Our telehealth coding guide gives examples of how UnitedHealthcare might reimburse telehealth services for dates of service from March 18, 2020 until June 18, 2020. This includes telehealth sessions, virtual check-ins and electronic visits (e-visits).

Waiving Cost Share for COVID-19 Testing and Testing-Related Visits
Member cost share (copays, coinsurance and deductibles) has been waived for COVID-19 testing and testing-related visits throughout the COVID-19 national emergency period. This applies whether the visit occurs in a health care provider’s office, urgent care center, emergency department or through a telehealth visit.

Waiving Cost Share for COVID-19 Treatment
If a member in our Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and Individual and Group Market fully insured health plans receives treatment under a COVID-19 admission or diagnosis code between Feb. 4, 2020 and May 31, 2020, we will waive cost share for the following:
  • Office visits
  • Urgent care visits
  • Emergency department visits
  • Observation stays
  • Inpatient hospital episodes
  • Acute inpatient rehab
  • Long-term acute care
  • Skilled nursing facilities

Implementing Provisional Credentialing
We’re temporarily updating our credentialing policies to implement provisional credentialing from March 19, 2020 until June 18, 2020 for out-of-network care providers who are licensed independent practitioners and want to participate in our networks.

Reducing Prior Authorization Requirements
To streamline operations for providers, we’re suspending prior authorization requirements for COVID-19 diagnostic radiology, post-acute care, member transfers to a new provider and site of service review for many surgical codes. Visit our COVID-19 prior authorization page for effective dates and specific details.

Extending Timely Filing Limits
Claims with a date of service on or after Jan. 1, 2020 will not be denied for failure to meet timely filing deadlines if submitted by June 30, 2020. This applies to Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and Individual and Group Market health plan claims.

Helping You with Patient Discharges to SNF Facilities
If you need help with patient discharge planning to lower levels of care settings during the emergency period, such as to a skilled nursing facility (SNF), please email COVID-19dischargeplanning@uhc.com and one of our team members will be in touch with you.

For Members

Improving Access to Durable Medical Equipment
For members who have existing health conditions and are dependent on Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS), we’ve relieved prior authorizations, in-person evaluation and proof-of-delivery requirements to help our members access the critical supplies they need. Visit the DMEPOS section of our COVID-19 prior authorization page, for effective dates and specific details.

Providing Other Member Support
To help support members, we are:
  • Offering a special enrollment period for members with fully insured, employer-sponsored plans.
  • Giving members access to early prescription refills, as needed.
  • Providing members with access to a COVID-19 symptom checker.
  • Offering support for high-risk members with a home-based care management platform.
  • Supporting members in home isolation through a navigation support program.
  • Giving members access to Sanvello, an on-demand emotional support mobile app available during the COVID-19 emergency.
  • Providing access to emotional support through our helpline, a free service from Optum that’s open to anyone and can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 866-342-6892.

For Communities

We’re investing an initial $50 million to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and support those most directly impacted by the public health emergency, including health care workers, hard-hit states, seniors and people experiencing food insecurity or homelessness.

UnitedHealth Group is also organizing and matching employee donations dollar for dollar to support the COVID-19 response efforts. Read the full press release here.

Keeping You Informed As Circumstances Change

This is a dynamic situation, and we will continue to post changes and updates on our care provider COVID-19 website. For answers to common questions around billing, claims, and/or eligibility, you can continue to take advantage of our Link self-service tools.

Ed Lagerstrom
President, UnitedHealthcare Networks


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