Uber Health is partnering with UnitedHealth Group’s Optum health services business to make paying for ancillary benefits like ride share and product delivery easier for seniors via the Uber app.

“Health plan benefit cards, including health spending account (HSA) and flexible spending (FSA) cards, can be added as a form of payment within the Uber app,” Optum and Uber said in statement released Sunday during HLTH 2023 in Las Vegas. “This payment option can then be used to cover eligible expenses, including health related rides (like non- emergency doctor visits), over-the-counter items and healthy food.”

UnitedHealth is one of the nation’s largest providers of privatized Medicare Advantage benefits for seniors and the health insurer’s provider networks include thousands of Optum medical care providers and payment services.

“Historically, accessing benefits has been full of guesswork,” the global head of Uber Health, Caitlin Donovan said. “Consumers have had to sink significant time and energy into figuring out what’s covered, where they can access it, and how best to cover the costs. Our new partnership with Optum is designed to change all of that.”

The payment partnership comes in the wake of other benefits and services Uber Health has added in the last year. Already, Uber’s health business has added grocery and over-the-counter product delivery as its health insurer clients cover more healthcare services and items to address social determinants of health.

During the pandemic, in particular, more Medicare Advantage plans began new services like delivering meals to seniors who were shut in their homes and either unable or unwilling to venture out for healthcare products or meals. Most health insurers have continued these services, seeing value for their customers and in recent years have also included ride share in most health benefit plans as a way to make sure their customers get to the doctor’s office appointments and other healthcare appointments.

“The new and simple way to pay for items within the app, pairs the breadth and flexibility of Optum’s leading health payment platform with Uber’s national transportation and merchant network of grocery and retail stores, and will be offered as part of select Medicare Advantage plan benefits for 2024,” Uber and Optum said.

Initially, the relationship will focus on Medicare Advantage customers who will have access to the new payment system in 2024. “It is expected to expand over time to also include people with Medicaid and commercial health benefits,” Uber said in a statement.

“This is the very first time a Medicare Advantage benefit card has been fully integrated with a technology company that offers a combination of rides, groceries, and over the counter goods,” Donovan said. “Combining Optum’s seamless payment methods with Uber Health’s expansive and on-demand mobility, grocery, and retail networks will optimize the impact of supplemental benefits at scale, improve consumer experiences and could ultimately lead to better health outcomes.”

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