UnitedHealthcare has introduced a new benefit for people with acute low back pain that makes it more affordable to access physical therapy, helping to improve health outcomes, reduce costs and avoid often unnecessary invasive treatments and opioid prescriptions.

With this new benefit design, available to employers with more than 101 employees, plan participants enrolled in certain employer-sponsored health plans can pay $0 out of pocket (waived deductible or copay) if they select physical therapy for the treatment of low back pain.

Eligible plan participants must have remaining physical therapy visits under their plan; the new benefit design does not increase the maximum number of covered physical therapy or chiropractic visits per year, UnitedHealthcare notes in a media release.

“This new benefit design may help encourage people with low back pain to get the right care at the right time and in the right setting, helping expand access to evidence-based and more affordable treatments,” Anne Docimo, MD, UnitedHealthcare chief medical officer, says in a media release.

“With millions of Americans experiencing low back pain currently or at some point during their lifetimes, we believe this benefit design will help make a meaningful difference by improving health outcomes while reducing costs.”

The benefit covers, at no additional out-of-pocket cost, three physical therapy visits, along with additional visits normally covered under the plan, to a qualified care provider.

This new UnitedHealthcare benefit change is available now for some new and renewing employers with fully insured plans and 51 or more employees in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, New York and North Carolina. Starting January 1, 2020, the benefit will be expanded to new and renewing employers with self-funded plans and organizations with two to 50 employees in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. Broader expansion is planned throughout 2020 and 2021.

Eligible employers with fully insured plans that include coverage for physical therapy and chiropractic visits have this benefit at no additional cost, the release explains..

For more information about strategies that may help treat low back pain and this benefit, visit UnitedHealthcare.

[Source(s): UnitedHealthcare, Business Wire]