UnitedHealth Group is poised to announce plans to roll out Medicare-like plans in the United States over the next few years.
The company has already laid out a series of steps it plans to take to compete with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Anthem, the nation’s two largest Medicare insurers.
The company’s CEO, Ajay C. Bhalla, said Tuesday that the company would be moving toward offering plans that include benefits like dental and vision care, as well as a range of other benefits.
The moves would not be limited to individual plans.
It would also apply to plans that provide Medicare-level benefits, such as the cost-sharing and prescription drug coverage that can help people afford coverage.
“What we’re trying to do with our plans is give people the best possible chance of going into Medicare, and that’s what we’ve done with all our plans,” Bhalla said at a conference in New York.
“And that’s not only for our patients, but for the people of the country.”
The plans, which would be available in all 50 states, are being rolled out by UnitedHealth’s parent company, UnitedHealth Care.
Under Bhalla’s leadership, the company has grown from a single-employer medical equipment company to the largest insurer in the country.
But its stock has been under pressure from investors and analysts, and it has struggled to stay afloat.
In January, United was facing a federal government shutdown.
The government shutdown was sparked by the Affordable Care Act, which requires insurers to cover most health plans with high out-of-pocket expenses.
Under the ACA, companies could raise premiums and deductibles for some plans if they could demonstrate that their plan would increase the number of people enrolled in the plan.
The UnitedHealth plans, known as Medicare Advantage plans, are a way to expand access to health care without forcing out-and-out costs.
Bhall said that the plans will be sold across all states and offer Medicare-grade benefits, including dental and Vision care, and cost-saving features such as prescription drug plans.
The plans would be offered through a new entity, United HealthCare Corp. The entity is a separate company from UnitedHealth, but United will continue to operate United Health, he said.
United has struggled in the wake of the shutdown, with its stock down more than 35 percent in the first quarter of 2018.
In a conference call with analysts Tuesday, Bhalla called the shutdown an “unexpected setback” that would have a “significant impact” on the company’s business.
“The fact that we are in this situation where we are going through this is an unexpected setback,” Bhall told analysts.
“We have a very aggressive plan to continue to grow our business.
We have plans for the next several years.”
The United Healthcare announcement follows a report last week from the Congressional Budget Office that said the ACA’s individual mandate would reduce health spending by $2.3 trillion over the period of 2020 and 2025, even after accounting for the cost of health insurance coverage.
The mandate requires most Americans to purchase insurance, and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Service estimated that the ACA would reduce overall spending by an additional $2,800 for every American by 2020.
The new plan announced Tuesday does not include the individual mandate, but would include an “essential health benefits” clause, which could reduce out-the-pocket costs.
Bhalla said that United would continue to invest in its network and provide its patients with a high-quality healthcare experience.
“We are committed to ensuring that our patients receive the best healthcare possible,” Bhany said.
“There is no other option.”
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