Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

UnitedHealth's New Harmony Plan Offers Lower Costs, but Patients Have to Use the Insurer's Doctors

By David Jagielski - Mar 3, 2020 at 10:00AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Its premiums are about 20% less than those for the insurer's standard plans.

Major health insurer UnitedHealth Group (UNH -0.83%) is offering its customers a way to save some money on their premiums -- if they're willing to give up some freedom when it comes to which doctors they can see. Under the new Harmony plan, patients will primarily have to choose doctors whose practices are owned by UnitedHealth's Optum division, which employs nearly 50,000 physicians. A small number of outside providers will also be available within the Harmony network. 

The premiums for Harmony are around 20% lower than what customers would pay for UnitedHealth's similar HMO plans, which offer more choices for patients. The savings are even higher when compared to preferred-provider organizations (PPOs) where members can choose any physician they want. UnitedHealth's PPO premiums are more than five times as high as those for Harmony in Los Angeles, where the plans are currently available.

There is interest in such low-cost plans -- so far, 35,000 people in Southern California have signed up for Harmony. UnitedHealth first started selling them to employers in the second half of 2019, and plans to roll them out in additional markets including Seattle and Texas soon.

Doctor reviewing results with patient.

Image source: Getty Images.

Other health insurers are also trying to develop plans for patients who are looking for inexpensive options that also provide them with sufficient coverage. Both Aetna -- now owned by CVS Health (CVS 2.33%) -- and Blue Cross offer low-cost plans that require members to choose from smaller pools of both hospitals and doctors when seeking care.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

UnitedHealth Group Incorporated Stock Quote
UnitedHealth Group Incorporated
$495.64 (-0.83%) $-4.17
CVS Health Corporation Stock Quote
CVS Health Corporation
$94.52 (2.33%) $2.15

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 06/26/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.