UnitedHealth's Unit Expands Services Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s UNH UnitedHealthcare business updated its existing fully-insured and level-funded customers about the initiation of a special enrollment period. It gives the customers an opportunity to come under the company’s health coverage schemes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The enrollment period started from Mar 23 and will extend til Apr 6, 2020.

The global pandemic, as declared by the World Health Organization (WHO), infected more than 386,350 people to date across 175 nations and territories. Furthermore, UnitedHealthcare decided to provide customers with a hassle-free experience by relaxing certain administrative burdens related to the health system. Primarily applicable for the company’s commercial, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid members, it eliminated certain ‘out-of-pocket’ costs required for COVID-19 testing as previously stated.

UnitedHealthcare also decided to expand its telehealth policies, which will facilitateeasy communication between customers sitting at home andtheir healthcare provider.

UnitedHealth along with its two health service businesses, UnitedHealthcare and Optum, has been undertaking several actions to contain the spread of coronavirus since the beginning of March. Recently, the healthcare provider introduced a personalized digital platform, which will enable customers to quickly evaluate their risk to get infected by the coronavirus. The platform is likely to enhance access to the company’s telehealth and virtual care services. Based on their efficient analytical capabilities, UnitedHealthcare also ensured that proper access to resources is being given to customers, who have been infected with the virus.

Notably, the healthcare provider seems to actively engage in helping its members not only during this coronavirus outbreak but for other natural calamities as well.

We believe that such actions undertaken by the company are likely to boost the UnitedHealthcare business, which contributed nearly 63% to its top-line growth in 2019. Revenues from the business increased 5.6% in 2019, helping the company’s top line witness a CAGR of 13.2% in the past five years (2014-2019).

However, shares of this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company have lost 25.2% on a year-to-date basis compared with the industry’s decline of 35.6%.You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Nevertheless, we believe that the company’s solid health care business is likely to drive its shares going forward.

Some other companies in the same space are resorting to similar measures to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.

Magellan Health, Inc. MGLN has enhanced telehealth services via video calls.

Humana Inc. HUM also expanded the availability of telehealth services by providing an array of affordable and feasible services, which include early prescription refills and wider coverage of telehealth visits for urgent healthcare.

CVS Health Corp.’s CVS health insurance division, Aetna (which was merged in 2018),is also developing and expanding its telehealth offerings.

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