UnitedHealthcare, a UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company, is now offering at-home health screening kits as part of corporate wellness programs for employers. The health screening kits enable employees to more easily test for conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Test results will help patients work with their doctors to detect conditions early and develop appropriate treatment plans.
The kits, developed by Santa Barbara, Calif.-based BioIQ, are available nationwide to employers who self-fund their health benefit plans. Each BioIQ at-home health screening kit contains components and instructions for drawing a tiny blood sample, from a finger prick, that is mailed to a certified laboratory for analysis. The easy-to-understand lab reports, along with personalized health recommendations based in part on the test results, are available through password-protected accounts on BioIQ’s secure Web portal. In addition, the lab reports are automatically populated into the patient’s online health assessment and personal health record on myuhc.com.
UnitedHealthcare is among the first health insurers in the nation to offer at-home health screening kits as part of a wellness program. Employers are increasingly adopting wellness programs as a way to improve employee health and productivity and to better manage their health care costs. Wellness Council of America estimates that a $1 investment in a wellness program saves $3 in health care costs.
“At-home health screening kits can make an impact in the early detection of certain illnesses, and ultimately save lives,” said Sam Ho, M.D., UnitedHealthcare executive vice president and chief medical officer. “We believe these kits can help improve employees’ health and reduce their health care expenses, which employers are looking for. Home test kits help provide consumers with the care support they need through one of our many wellness and care management programs that supplement the essential relationship individuals have with their physicians.”
The kits test for both heart disease and diabetes from one small blood sample – only a few drops of blood are required. For heart disease, they measure the amount of total cholesterol, HDL, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol value. The kits also include a choice of diabetes tests – either for A1c, which measures average blood sugar over the past 90 days, or glucose, which measures blood sugar at the time of testing.
Also, each kit contains everything needed to collect and mail one small blood sample, including clear, step-by-step instructions and a postage-paid return envelope.
“These kits can help empower people to consult with their physicians in order to detect diseases early and develop an appropriate treatment program,” said Dr. Ho. “In addition to the lab results, individuals receive a physician discussion form that can help foster dialog between patients and their physicians.”
The national launch of the at-home screening kits follows a UnitedHealthcare pilot program last year with select employers in the state of Washington. The program resulted in helping to identify about 10 percent of participating employees as having high cholesterol and 4 percent as having elevated indicators for diabetes.
Spokane, Wash.-based ACRAnet was one of more than 80 firms that participated in the pilot. “Employees were very receptive to the program, in part because the tests were easy, accurate and, most importantly, private,” said Preston Ritter, ACRAnet assistant general manager. “The program helped keep our health care costs down, enhanced employee productivity and improved the overall health of our work force.”
“These test kits are safe, easy to use and have the potential to significantly improve disease detection in this country,” said Justin Bellante, CEO of BioIQ. “Testing involves only a quick pin prick that can be done in the comfort of a person’s home. People then put the sample in a prepaid envelope and drop it in the mail.”
BioIQ develops and markets medical diagnostic solutions through corporate, institutional and direct-to-consumer channels. The company’s affordable and innovative home test kits are commonly used to monitor or screen for diabetes, cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, thyroid disorder, osteoporosis and other chronic health conditions. BioIQ programs include comprehensive health reports, live customer support, optional health coach follow-up, integration with electronic health records and a complete communications plan for encouraging participation with employees and dependents.
UnitedHealthcare provides a full spectrum of consumer-oriented health benefit plans and services to individuals, public sector employers and businesses of all sizes, including more than half of the Fortune 100 companies. The company organizes access to quality, affordable health care services on behalf of approximately 25 million individual consumers, contracting directly with more than 600,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals to offer them broad, convenient access to services nationwide. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.