5 things to know about Harmony, the UnitedHealth plan directing members to Optum physicians

Launched in 2019, UnitedHealth Group's Harmony health plan aims to steer patients to physician practices owned by Optum, according to Bloomberg.

Five things to know about Harmony:

1. Harmony provides policyholders a narrow network of Optum physicians, plus a small number of outside providers, in exchange for lower premiums.

2. Under contracts with Harmony, providers agree to share in risk for medical costs. If customers' care is above a certain threshold, physicians will owe the plan money, and if costs are under the threshold, they will receive a share of the savings.

3. Optum, which is now driving a substantial portion of UnitedHealth's profits, has almost 50,000 owned, managed and contracted physicians, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission cited by Bloomberg. Those numbers mean Optum is contracting with about 5 percent of the entire U.S. physician workforce.

4. Harmony's roughly 35,000 members pay premiums that are 20 percent lower than similar plans offered by Oakland, Calif.-based Kaiser Permanente and Cigna in Southern California, where Harmony plans are first being sold.

5. UnitedHealth intends to expand Harmony into Seattle and Texas next.

Access the full report here.

More articles on payers:
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BCBS of Michigan expands risk-based contracts to 14 providers
Aetna partners with Emory, Northside in Atlanta to boost insurance offerings

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