UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage 2023 Review

UnitedHealthcare makes well-rated plans widely available, and member satisfaction is improving.

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

UnitedHealthcare is the largest provider of Medicare Advantage plans in 2022

and offers plans in nearly nine out of every 10 counties in the U.S. UnitedHealthcare also partners with AARP, insuring the Medicare products that carry the AARP name.

The vast majority (95%) of UnitedHealthcare members are in highly rated plans, and UnitedHealthcare gets high marks overall. UHC ranks just below the industry average in a recent member satisfaction survey, but it's an improvement from last year's score.

Here’s what you should know about UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage.

UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage pros and cons

UnitedHealthcare’s offerings have advantages and disadvantages:

Pros

  • Largest network: UnitedHealthcare offers the largest Medicare Advantage network of all companies, with more than 1 million network care providers.

  • Highly rated plans: UnitedHealthcare has 45 contracts in 2023 rated 4 stars or higher by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and a higher-than-average overall star rating.

  • $0 copays: Most eligible plan members will have the option of a plan with a $0 copay for primary care as well as lower copays for specialist and therapy visits in 2023.

  • Home benefits: UnitedHealthcare offers $0-copay telehealth visits as well as annual home health visits for members who need a house call.

Cons

  • Average member satisfaction ratings: Despite being a behemoth in the industry, UnitedHealthcare's member satisfaction scores in J.D. Power’s recent 2022 Medicare Advantage Study landed just below the industry average, in fourth place out of nine providers. (That said, it's a bump up from sixth place in 2021.)

  • Special needs plans can get pricey: While plenty of $0-premium plans are available, UnitedHealthcare also offers the highest-priced special needs plans, or SNPs, in 2023, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the cost for plans that fit your needs.

Available UHC Medicare Advantage plans

UnitedHealthcare offers several kinds of Medicare Advantage plans, and they vary in terms of structure, costs and benefits available.

In general, UnitedHealthcare offers Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans as well as stand-alone prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans without drug coverage. UHC also offers Medicare Advantage Patriot Plans, which are geared toward veterans and other people with existing drug coverage.

Other plan offerings include the following types:

A health maintenance organization, or HMO, generally requires that you use a specific network of doctors and hospitals. You may need a referral from your primary doctor to see a specialist, and out-of-network benefits are usually limited.

HMO point-of-service plans are HMO plans that allow members to get some out-of-network services, but you’ll pay more for those services.

Preferred provider organization, or PPO, plans provide the most freedom, allowing you to see any provider that accepts the insurance. You may not need to choose a primary doctor, and you don’t need referrals to see specialists. You can seek out-of-network care, although it may cost more than seeing an in-network doctor.

UnitedHealthcare’s private fee-for-service, or PFFS, plans allow you to see any Medicare-approved provider who accepts your UnitedHealthcare plan. You won’t have to pick a primary doctor, and you won’t need a referral to see a specialist.

Special needs plans, or SNPs, restrict membership to people with certain diseases or characteristics. The benefits, network and drug formularies are tailored to the needs of those members. UnitedHealthcare offers three types of SNPs:

  • Chronic Condition SNP: Designed to meet the needs of members living with certain chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disorders, diabetes or chronic heart failure.

  • Dual-Eligible SNP: For people who are entitled to Medicare and who also qualify for assistance from a state Medicaid program.

  • Institutional plans: Provide specialized care to members who live in skilled nursing or assisted living facilities and need an institutional level of care.

Additional benefits

UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage offers most plan members access to dental care (and the largest Medicare Advantage dental network) and hearing aids. Many of its plans offer other benefits. Here are a few standouts:

  • Fitness benefits: UnitedHealthcare’s Renew Active fitness program gives members access to a large network of gyms and fitness facilities as well as local classes and events. Members can also access a library of online workout videos and an online brain health program from AARP Staying Sharp.

  • Food and over-the-counter allowance: Some plan members may get an allowance they can put toward their choice of healthy foods and covered over-the-counter items like cough and cold meds, first-aid supplies, vitamins and pain relievers.

  • Healthy rewards: Members may be able to earn rewards for completing health-related tasks, such as getting their annual physical.

  • Home health visits: Most plans include HouseCalls, a program that offers members an annual visit with a licensed clinician in their home, which can be used to help manage care.

  • Care coordinators for complex problems: People in UHC's Dual-Eligible special needs plans, or D-SNPs, have access to one-on-one support for a variety of needs through UHC’s Navigate4Me program.

  • Telehealth: Many members have access to plans offering $0 copays for telehealth visits.

Customer service

UnitedHealthcare members can contact their plan’s customer service in the following ways:

  • Call the number on their member ID card.

  • Chat with a service advocate (available once members log in to their member page).

  • Call 800-721-0627 (TTY: 711) for technical issues 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Central time seven days a week.

  • Connect with UHC on Twitter or Facebook.

UnitedHealthcare service area

UnitedHealthcare offers Medicare Advantage plans in 49 states and Washington, D.C. Altogether, UnitedHealthcare offers plans in 2,798 counties, or 89% of counties in the U.S. — the second-highest number among providers (Humana tops the list). Ninety-five percent of Medicare beneficiaries have the option of a UnitedHealthcare plan

.

Overall, UnitedHealthcare is the largest health insurer in the country, with 8.2 million Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in a UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plan as of October 2022. The company added 765,000 members for the 2022 plan year, according to a report from health care analytics firm The Chartis Group

.

Costs

Costs for Medicare Advantage plans will depend on your plan, geographic location and health needs. One of the costs to consider is the plan’s premium, and UnitedHealthcare estimates that nearly 3.3 million of its Medicare Advantage members will have $0 premiums in 2023. In total, 65% of UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans are $0-premium plans

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 2023 MA Landscape Source File (v 09 06 2022) (ZIP). Accessed Oct 12, 2022.
.

For 2023 UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans with a premium, the monthly consolidated premium (including Part C and Part D) ranges from $9 to $197. For special needs plans with a premium, monthly premiums range from $1.20 to $197

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 2023 SNP Landscape Source File (v 09 06 2022) (ZIP). Accessed Oct 12, 2022.
.

Even as a Medicare Advantage user, you’ll still be responsible for paying your Medicare Part B premium, which is at least $170.10 per month in 2022 ($164.90 in 2023). (Most people pay this standard amount, but if your income is above a certain threshold, you’ll pay more.)

Other out-of-pocket costs to consider include:

  • Whether the plan covers any part of your monthly Medicare Part B premium.

  • The plan’s yearly deductibles and other deductibles, such as a drug deductible.

  • Copayments and/or coinsurance for each visit or service. For instance, there may be a $10 copay for seeing your primary doctor and a $45 copay for seeing a specialist.

  • The plan’s in-network and out-of-network out-of-pocket maximums.

  • Whether your medical providers are in network or out of network, or how often you may go out of network for care.

  • Whether you require extra benefits, and whether the plan charges for them.

To get a sense of costs, use Medicare’s plan finding tool to compare information among available plans in your area. You can select by insurance carrier to see only UnitedHealthcare plans or compare across carriers. You can also shop directly from UnitedHealthcare’s website by entering your ZIP code, and you’ll be able to compare the plans available.

UHC Medicare star ratings

Average star rating, weighted by enrollment: 4.28

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services maintains a database of star ratings on every Medicare Advantage and Medicare prescription drug plan, ranging from best (5 stars) to worst (1 star). The agency bases these ratings on plans’ quality of care and measurements of customer satisfaction, and ratings may change from year to year.

All Medicare Advantage plans are evaluated on health plan measures, and Medicare Advantage plans that include prescription drug coverage are also evaluated on drug plan measures. Based on the most recent year of data and weighted by enrollment, UnitedHealthcare’s 2023 Medicare Advantage plans got an average rating of 4.28 stars

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 2023 Star Ratings Data Table (ZIP). Accessed Oct 12, 2022.
.

For comparison, the average weighted star rating for plans from all providers was 4.15

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 2023 Medicare Star Ratings Fact Sheet . Accessed Oct 12, 2022.
.

Nine UnitedHealthcare contracts received 5-star ratings, and 11 received 4.5 stars. Eight contracts were too new or otherwise lacking enough data to be rated.

Of UnitedHealthcare members who are in Medicare Advantage contracts with a star rating, nearly all (95%) are in contracts rated 4.0 or above as of September 2022

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Monthly Enrollment by Contract, 2022-09. Accessed Oct 12, 2022.
.

To get an overall star rating, the CMS ranks contracts on 40 plan factors. (You can find definitions for each of these factors in the CMS Star Ratings Technical Notes.) Here’s where UnitedHealthcare plans received average scores of 4.5 (out of 5) and above:

  • Care for older adults — medication review.

  • Care for older adults — pain assessment.

  • Diabetes care — blood sugar controlled.

  • Complaints about the health plan.

  • Plan makes timely decisions about appeals.

  • Reviewing appeals decisions.

  • Health plan: Call center — foreign language interpreter and TTY availability.

  • Drug plan: Call center — foreign language interpreter and TTY availability.

  • Complaints about the drug plan.

  • Medicare Plan Finder price accuracy.

UnitedHealthcare contracts averaged a sub-3.0 score in three categories. (You can find definitions for each of these factors in the CMS Star Ratings Technical Notes.)

  • Osteoporosis management in women who had a fracture.

  • Health plan quality improvement.

  • Drug plan quality improvement.

You can find a plan’s rating with the Medicare plan finding tool.

Third-party ratings

A few companies weigh in on health plans or on the strength of the company in question, and we’ve included three:

AM Best Financial Strength Rating: A+ (Superior)

AM Best is a credit rating agency that specializes in the insurance industry. In December 2021, AM Best upgraded its Financial Strength Rating to A+ (Superior) for most of the companies collectively referred to as UnitedHealthcare. An A+ rating in this category indicates that AM Best believes UnitedHealthcare has a superior ability to meet its ongoing insurance obligations

.

J.D. Power Ranking: 4th out of 9

In its 2022 U.S. Medicare Advantage Study — the eighth it has done — J.D. Power measured member satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans based on six factors: coverage and benefits, provider choice, cost, customer service, information and communication, and billing and payment. On these measures, UnitedHealthcare scored 808 points out of 1,000, one point below the industry average and fourth place out of the top nine Medicare Advantage providers

.

NCQA Score Range: 2.0 to 4.0 out of 5

The National Committee for Quality Assurance rates health insurance plans on a 5-point scale (with 5 being best) based on quality of care, patient satisfaction and health plans’ efforts to keep improving.

In its September 2022 ratings of UnitedHealthcare plans, NCQA awarded ratings between 2.0 and 4.0 stars. Among the company’s plans with ratings, more than half (59%) received scores of 3.5 or 4.0, but there were 16 plans with 3.0 stars, 22 plans with 2.5 stars and two plans with 2.0 stars

NCQA. Health Plans. Accessed Oct 12, 2022.
.

Compare Medicare Advantage providers

Get more information below about some of the major Medicare Advantage providers. These insurers offer plans in most states. The plans you can choose from will depend on your ZIP code and county.

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is a business of UnitedHealth Group, which was founded in 1977 and is headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota.

UnitedHealthcare’s insurance offerings include medical, dental, vision and pharmacy benefits. The company offers individual and group health insurance, including Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and Medicare Supplement Insurance.

UnitedHealthcare posted total revenues of $222.9 billion in 2021.

Read the NerdWallet reviews of these other UnitedHealthcare offerings:

Find the right Medicare Advantage plan

It’s important to do your research before selecting a Medicare Advantage plan for yourself. Here are some questions to consider asking:

  • What are the plan’s costs? Do you understand what the plan’s premium, deductibles, copays and/or coinsurance will be? Can you afford them?

  • Is your doctor in-network? If you have a preferred medical provider or providers, make sure they participate in the plan’s network.

  • Are your prescriptions covered? If you’re on medication, it’s crucial to understand how the plan covers it. What tier are your prescription drugs on, and are there any coverage rules that apply to them?

  • Is there dental coverage? Does the plan offer routine coverage for vision, dental and hearing needs?

  • Are there extras? Does the plan offer any extra benefits, such as fitness memberships, transportation benefits or meal delivery?

If you have additional questions about Medicare, visit Medicare.gov or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227, TTY 877-486-2048).
Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.