UnitedHealthcare Reports Positive Shift Toward Value-Based Care Plans

Kaitlynn Ely

A continued shift towards value-based care incentivizes better health behaviors and improves coordination of care among healthcare providers by focusing on cost savings, according to UnitedHealthcare’s second annual report on value-based care.

“Value-based care is creating a platform for positive change throughout the healthcare system,” Sam Ho, MD, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare, said in a press release. “Patients get more consistent, quality care that is better coordinated and easier to navigate; health plans and care providers are working together on behalf of patients in new ways; and physicians are being rewarded for placing value and quality over volume.”

UnitedHealthcare’s annual report evaluated value-based programs that include 110,000 physicians and 1100 hospitals that treat patients in UnitedHealthcare employer-sponsored, individual, Medicare, and Medicaid products.

The payer found that accountable care organizations (ACOs) had a greater effect on improving health and lowering costs than non-ACOs, with hospital admission rates being 17% lower for ACOs compared with non-ACOs. UnitedHealthcare and other care providers working in value-based relationships have closed 50 million gaps in care from 2013 to 2017.

The report finds that a greater emphasis on quality care and lower health costs show the benefit of care coordination, as nearly 15 million UnitedHealthcare enrollees now participate in value-based arrangements.

The report offered a case study of how the Arizona Care Network (ACN) has seen firsthand how patient coordination reduces spending. Serving patients in Maricopa and Pinal counties, the ACO has reduced costs by millions of dollars while working alongside UnitedHealthcare. The ACO not only observed a 30% increase in UnitedHealthcare enrollees, but also saw that patient time spent in the hospital was reduced by 25% within the first 2 years of the ACN working with the insurance provider.

“When an organization like UnitedHealthcare shares these kinds of unique insights with a trusted collaborator like Arizona Care Network, you get rapid results,” added David Hanekom, CEO of the ACN. “This is the kind of relationship that helps transform our healthcare system.”

A total of $64 billion in annual payments under UnitedHealthcare was paid to care providers with value-based arrangements. This number is expected to increase to $75 billion by 2020 as value-based plans become more accepted.
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