UnitedHealth Group Inc. saved more than $100 million in medical costs over three years by using incentives to persuade its employees to get healthier.
Nearly 80 percent of its employees reduced their family insurance premiums by losing weight and meeting certain other health goals in just the first year of the program. Twenty-seven percent achieved the highest possible savings, cutting their premiums by $1,200.
The largest health carrier in the U.S. employs 133,000 workers. Its program identified 7,200 people who were at high risk for diseases, including diabetes, but hadn’t been diagnosed.
After reviewing its own data and experimenting with an array of programs, UnitedHealth said it believes plan providers too often take a passive role in cost-containment, something that has to change if the health care system is to be mended. Payers, too, have a bigger role to play, it said.
The three authors of the patient engagement study — Simon Stevens, president, global health, UnitedHealth Group, Lewis Sandy, a UnitedHealth Group EVP, and Reed Tuckson, managing director, Tuckson Health Connections — reviewed massive amounts of data and reports produced by UnitedHealth’s patient engagement initiatives.
Here’s some of what they wrote:
“Many proponents of delivery system transformation have framed patient engagement in terms of what providers can do with their patients, without considering the role of payers. Some might suggest that the payer’s role is simply to offer a network and a benefit package and let the work of patient engagement occur exclusively between health professionals and patients.
“Our view, however, is that although the patient-physician relationship is central to health care, payers will play an important and complementary role in enabling robust patient engagement and achieving the ‘Triple Aim’ — a better patient experience, improved population health, and lower per capita costs.”