In an effort to boost plan member engagement and turn workers into better health care consumers, UnitedHealthcare has added an electronic bill-payment service to its claims management website.

The new service enables the carrier’s plan participants to pay medical bills electronically by entering their credit card, debit card or bank account information. It’s the latest addition to the company’s plan member portal and the service is integrated with plan participants’ online claims information The company believes such services will become increasingly important as consumers continue to foot the bill for a larger percentage of their medical bills, says Victoria Bogatyrenko, vice president of product development and innovation with UnitedHealthcare.

“The consumer can complete the entire transaction — from trying to understand their claim and why they owe what they might owe, to actually paying that claim electronically directly to their provider,” she explains. As consumer-driven health plans grow, “people are looking, more and more, to have a greater sense of understanding of how their benefits work, and take greater control of their out-of-pocket-costs,” she adds.

By helping employees understand how their benefits work and how payment was applied to a particular claim, it’s hoped the tool will ease the administrative burden for employers, as well. “Things like ‘I don’t understand what a deductible is,’ or ‘I’m not quite clear on why I have an out-of-pocket expense’ – by simplifying some of that language we hope to help people feel more confident about their benefits but also reduce the amount of administrative work for those plan sponsors,” says Bogatyrenko.

In addition to paying medical bills directly online, the service, called myClaims Manager, enables plan participants to:

• Check the current status of their deductible and out-of-pocket spending.

• Track medical expenses for tax reporting.

• Look at claim details with color-coded visuals to help them understand what they owe and why.

Designed in collaboration with InstaMed, a health care payments network company, the online system is available to UnitedHealthcare employer customers of all sizes and to their employees. UnitedHealthcare’s entire network of physicians and other health care providers are eligible to register and receive online payments through InstaMed.

This article originated at Employee Benefit News, a SourceMedia publication.

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