Commit to Your Healthy New Year’s Resolutions and Save Money in 2017

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Nearly half of all Americans each year make New Year’s resolutions, especially commitments to exercise more, eat better and improve one’s health. However, research suggests fewer than 10 percent of people are successful in achieving those resolutions.

But what if you could use technology to get paid for making and achieving some of your New Year’s resolutions, especially those aimed at improving your health? That is the goal behind new products in the growing health and wellness industry, which is leveraging technology to help make it easier for people to maintain and improve their health.

The latest health innovations are on display this week in Las Vegas, home to the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). This annual showcase brings together the latest innovations from leading companies worldwide, including those focused on health care.

To help people improve their health and save money in 2017, here are five ways you can use technology that may enhance their personal and financial well-being:

  • Find a Fitness Tracker: The wearable-technology market is booming; the industry’s value is expected to reach $31.2 billion by the end of 2020, according to a recent research report. This is good news for consumers, as wearable devices enable people to track their daily steps, monitor their heart rates and analyze sleep patterns. Some employers and health plans are including fitness trackers as part of wellness programs, enabling some employees to earn up to $1,500 per year in incentives by meeting specific daily walking goals. Likewise, websites such as www.achievemint.com enable people to earn cash rewards for walking.
  • Workplace Wellness: Besides fitness trackers, some employers offer other wellness incentives, which can include gift cards, lower health insurance premiums, cash bonuses, and discounts on gym memberships. The value of corporate wellness incentives has increased to $693 per employee, up from $430 five years ago, according to a recent study from the National Business Group on Health. However, the study found that fewer than half of eligible employees earned the full incentive, with workers leaving millions of dollars of unclaimed rewards.
  • Comparison shopping: The internet has transformed how people purchase goods and services, and it is doing the same for health care. Some new online and mobile services enable people to comparison shop for health care based on quality and cost. The Health4Me app, available on iPhone and Android devices, enables users to identify nearby health care providers and facilities, as well as compare quality and estimated cost information for more than 850 common medical services.
  • Get Care Anywhere: New mobile apps now enable people to meet with a primary care physician and specialist to obtain medical care, with the goal of providing convenience and more affordable care. The cost of a video-based virtual visit is usually less than $50 and may provide significant savings when compared to costs for similar minor medical needs treated at a doctor’s office (approximately $80), urgent care facility (approximately $160) or emergency room (approximately $650), according to UnitedHealthcare claims data. Recent advances in audio and video technology is enabling people to obtain a diagnosis and necessary prescriptions for minor medical needs including allergies, sinus and bladder infections, bronchitis and other conditions.
  • Keep Yourself Covered: The New Year is also a good time to evaluate whether you have the necessary level of financial protection to get you through an unforeseen medical issue. A life, disability or critical illness & accident insurance policy may provide peace of mind so you can focus on getting better. Some Americans are underinsured or lack life insurance altogether to help protect an important asset – their ability to earn an income.

The New Year is an opportune time to reflect on your personal and financial health. By taking advantage of available resources, people may improve both their waistlines and their wallets.

UnitedHealthcare Launches Spine and Joint Value-Based Care Payment Initiative in Texas

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UnitedHealthcare has launched a new value-based care payment for knee, hip and spine procedures that focuses on quality patient care and better outcomes. The initiative – the Spine and Joint Solution – is available to employers nationwide and works with health care facilities that perform a higher number of these surgeries and have demonstrated better outcomes and fewer complications.

Here in Texas, Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas has been designated one of 40 participating health care facilities in 25 markets across the country. UnitedHealthcare plans to expand to more than 40 markets during 2017.

The Spine and Joint Solution gives UnitedHealthcare employer-sponsored plan participants access to surgeons and facilities that qualify as UnitedHealthcare Centers of Excellence and accept bundled case rates for certain procedures, including knee and hip replacement, spinal fusion and spinal disc repair.

The bundled payment method reimburses a care provider or hospital for a defined episode of care, such as knee or hip replacement, under a single fee or payment. This is a shift away from the common fee-for-service structure in which a care provider is paid for each treatment, appointment or test, generating multiple claims within a single, broader episode of care.

The Spine and Joint Solution is currently available nationwide to large and mid-sized companies with self-funded health plans, helping expand access to high-quality, cost-effective care and potentially saving employees out-of-pocket costs. Since the program’s introduction as a pilot in 2015, participating employers have recorded an average savings of $10,000 or more per operation when compared with median costs in the same metropolitan area. Through the initiative, eligible employees may have lower out-of-pocket costs when accessing a participating facility rather than another in-network medical facility.

Musculoskeletal procedures are becoming increasingly common due to an aging population and higher obesity rates. For instance, the number of knee replacement surgeries performed nationally is expected to increase by 500 percent by 2030, according to a recent study from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project. Moreover, these surgical procedures are both expensive (knee/hip replacements average $35,000 per operation) and costs vary widely among care providers.

For more information about the Spine and Joint Solution and Value-Based Care, visit www.uhc.com/valuebasedcare.  

UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation: Help Two Children with One Donation This Holiday Season

A child opens a UHCCF Grins to Go™ bag.
A child opens a UHCCF Grins to Go™ bag.

The UnitedHealthcare Children’s Foundation (UHCCF) is providing a convenient way to buy gifts for children in need this holiday season.

The UHCCF Grins² program is designed to help families currently facing medical difficulties at children’s hospitals or Ronald McDonald Houses. When you purchase and donate a Grins to Go bag filled with amusing gifts and activities that will inspire any child, or an Oliver™ plush bear, one child receives a dose of happiness while another child will be impacted through a UHCCF medical grant. Grants are made possible by the proceeds raised by those who donate these gifts through corporate giving or personal donations.

Visit the Grins² program page to make a difference today! A list of children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald houses in Texas is located under the “Central Region” tab.