Care Connect Overview

What is Care Connect?

Care Connect is an Optum program designed to help employers provide fast access to quality mental health care options for their employees. 

Alma providers who opt into Care Connect will benefit from this new source of highly motivated referrals, as clients in this program are actively encouraged by their employer to prioritize their wellness. 

Why should I join Care Connect?

For you as a provider, Care Connect gives you the opportunity to place your profile in front of a new audience of motivated clients seeking immediate mental health support.

Care Connect also offers flexibility in how you deliver care. Unlike other types of employer-sponsored benefits (see full breakdown below), Care Connect does not put a limit on duration of care or session length, and you have the freedom to decide which clients you choose to add to your practice and when. 

For clients, Care Connect offers a streamlined entry point to finding a therapist, with a commitment to connect new clients to their first session of virtual therapy within 5 business days of seeking care.

How does Care Connect work?

Matching with Care Connect Clients

Care Connect is not an insurance plan; it is an employee benefit that can be used only in conjunction with an eligible Optum EAP or health plan for coverage of Alma sessions. 

Once we receive a Care Connect client’s health plan details through the Alma portal, our team will verify their eligibility, as we do with other referrals. We will also notify you and your client in the rare case that they are participating in an Optum plan our systems cannot process. You can find a list of these non-participating Optum plans here: Participating Insurance Plans and Geographies.

Care Connect generates client referrals by offering a direct pathway from the Optum wellness portal to a specialized, searchable Alma directory of profiles for participating providers. 

Once the client finds a provider who might be a good fit, they can submit a consultation request or set up a self-scheduled consultation appointment to kick off the process. 

Requirements for Providing Care

To fulfill Care Connect’s commitment to delivering faster access to high-quality care for clients, providers must: 

  1. Offer virtual care,
  2. Manage scheduling and billing for all Care Connect visits through the Alma portal,
  3. Respond to consultation requests within 24 hours,
  4. Schedule a first consultation call with new clients within 5 days (unless already scheduled by the client),
  5. Agree to provide clients with GAD-7 and PHQ-9 screening assessments before their first scheduled visit (this will be done automatically by the Alma platform for Care Connect clients).
  6. Agree to provide clients with elevated baseline scores on their initial GAD-7 and/or PHQ-9 a follow-up assessment 4-6 weeks after the first session. (This will be done automatically by the Alma platform for Care Connect clients.)

Will Alma ever share client data with Optum and employers?

Unless required by law, Alma will only share individual client data with Optum if your client explicitly opts into sharing that data. 

If clients opt into sharing their data, this data is used exclusively by Optum for purposes of helping fuel personalized health recommendations for the client. Clients can opt out of sharing their data with Care Connect at any time by emailing support@helloalma.com.

Individual data is never shared with a client’s employer. 

Who can participate in Care Connect as a provider?

Any provider who is credentialed with Optum with an eligible degree type may participate in the program. Eligible degree types include Masters-level, psychology doctorates (PhD), and nurse practitioners (NP). 

Who can participate in Care Connect as a client?

To take part in this program, clients must be currently employed at an organization that offers Care Connect as a benefit. Some of the largest employers in the technology, pharmaceutical, energy, and healthcare industries will participate in this program. For coverage of Alma sessions, the Care Connect benefit must be used in conjunction with an eligible Optum EAP or health plan.

Is Care Connect a type of EAP? 

Care Connect is not an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). 

For context, EAPs are a health care benefit offered by employers and designed to give clients access to short-term mental health support (typically between three and ten sessions) outside of traditional health insurance. 

Like an EAP, Care Connect is available to clients through their employers. However, there are two key differences:

  • A typical EAP limits the number of sessions and services covered by the program. Care Connect does not limit the number of sessions of types of service covered.
  • A typical EAP is separate from a client’s regular insurance plan and covers services with no copay or co-insurance cost. Care Connect works as part of a client’s existing insurance plan; their insurance copay or coinsurance cost still applies.

Can I opt out Care Connect whenever I want?

There is no strict time requirement to participate in Care Connect, and you are free to opt out if it is no longer a good fit for your practice.

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