UnitedHealth Launches Bundled Payment Program at MD Anderson

The pilot, which will has been launched for head and neck cancer patients, will include quality measures to ensure adequate patient care.

UnitedHealth is launching a pilot program with MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston that changes how the insurer pays for the treatment of certain cancer patients.

The “bundled-payment” program is part of a broader trend in health care to move away from the traditional “fee-for-service” payments, which critics say create incentives for doctors and hospitals to provide more care services than needed.

“I think a bundled payment really enables good-quality care,” said Lee Newcomer, MD, vice president for oncology services at the Minnetonka-based insurer. “More isn’t always better.”

Currently, about 100 to 150 patients per year with insurance from UnitedHealth seek care at MD Anderson for head and neck cancer. The Houston center traditionally has submitted a bill for each service provided for patients. With the pilot program, the cancer center instead will receive a pre-established sum that covers all costs.

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