UnitedHealth Group Inc. made itself look good today by stating that it will continue to abide by many patient relationship provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA).
To me, it seems as if all big health insurers should be agreeing to implement many of the PPACA patient relationship provisions for enlightened self-interest.
UnitedHealth didn’t say anything about adopting what might be considered the core PPACA rules — that it provide coverage on a guaranteed-issue basis, without considering the applicant’s health status when offering coverage or setting rates.
But, at least for consumers who can show that they’ve had “creditable health coverage” all or most of their lives, maybe the big carriers should figure out some voluntary, free-market way to stick with those provisions, too.
Otherwise, how can doctors and carriers get wellness programs to work?
The United States can cut health care costs by providing less care, regardless of whether the care is necessary or not; getting providers to accept lower pay for the care provided; or reducing the amount of care used by helping people live healthier lives.
Most people would probably agreed that reducing the amount of health care needed would be the nicest way to reduce health care costs. But doctors, hospitals, insurers, wellness companies, employers and the patients themselves probably need to work together better to make much progress at reducing the need for care.
The current system gives patients who have any clue about how the insurance system works every possible incentive to get the kind of sporadic, no-records kind of health care that James Bond might get if he were on the run and he thought everyone, including M and Her Majesty’s Secret Service, was out to get him.