Change how you think about health care: Start with how you search.
Every day, we do things without question. When it comes to our health and wellness — and our health insurance — one of those things is looking to see if a doctor is in-network, making an appointment, then going with whatever that doctor recommends. There is no “shopping” around. There is little or no comparing treatment options, or awareness of potentially lower-cost alternatives. There is often no comparing prices. It’s how we’ve become used to searching for care — but it’s not necessarily the most effective method.
“The first questions people should ask are: “‘What’s going on with me? What are my health challenges? What do I want to address?’” says Dr. Marcus Thygeson of Surest. “The next step is asking, ‘What are the different paths of action I can take to address my health and eliminate health challenges?’ and then, lastly, ‘Who are the providers who can deliver those services to me? Where can I get those services? How much will they cost?’”
In order to flip the script on how we think about health care, we need to change how we search for care.
With the Surest plan, prices are lower for providers and locations evaluated as providing quality, safe, and efficient care. In other words, providers who help people get better, faster, and stay better longer are typically priced lower. In this way, improved outcomes are an indication of value. This innovative structure is part of the Surest plan. It’s also why the search function is a little bit different than what you might be used to.
Before you start your search, narrow down your options by location/distance.
To find providers closest to you, adjust your location by zip code — that’s the search bar underneath costs and coverage. (This feature can be especially helpful when you’re out of town and need to find a doctor right away.) Enter city and state or zip code, or set the location radius to find provider options. You can also further filter your search by many attributes, including gender or provider ratings.
Start here: Search by symptom or condition.
(This is the search we recommend to help you get the most out of your Surest plan and see all options.)
What’s going on? Why do you need to see a doctor?
When you open the Surest app or website, you’ll see the “Search cost and coverage” search bar. Simply enter the reason you need to see a doctor. Use common phrases like “my head hurts” or “my eye is red” and let the search tool go to work for you. You don’t need to know the exact medical term; the search results will include provider names and treatment options for you to consider. For example, if you search “back pain,” the results may include a more specific list including lower, middle, and upper back pain, injuries, spasm, then a more narrowed focus to orthopedic providers and facilities, as well as acupuncture or physical therapy.
Search by specialty.
If you know the type of specialist you want to see, like “ENT,” enter it in the search tool. The results will populate the providers that match your need, along with a list of alternative treatment options for you to consider.
Search by doctor.
We know some people value relationships with providers and want to continue seeing them. To find out if your doctor is in-network, search by their last name. If the doctor doesn’t show up, widen the location radius on the search tool (physicians can be featured by billing zip code). If you’re still having trouble, call Surest Member Services for confirmation.
Whether searching by condition, specialty, or doctor, you’ll be accessing the large, national UnitedHealthcare network of doctors, clinics, and hospitals — one of the largest in the country.
Other unique features of the Surest plan.
After you find a doctor, clinic, or hospital, you’ll see what’s included in the visit — as well as the copay (price) you’ll owe. Common services are grouped together into a single copay so you don’t get hit with a bunch of bills afterwards. And you’ll see this price in advance, so you can compare care options before making an appointment, then decide.
When you search for care, you’ll also see additional programs that go along with related conditions as part of your employer’s health plan, either at low or no additional cost to you.
By searching in a different way than what you might be used to, you become part of the decision-making process — not as a patient, but as an equal partner in your health care decisions.
Surest is an employer-sponsored health plan. If your employer doesn’t offer this plan, reach out to your human resources department.