I’ve been thinking about some of the reasons that it will be hard to contain health care costs even if we get meaningful and sustainable reform. One temporary but currently quite painful condition is the state of the economy. Several studies have shown that many people with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease stop taking or take smaller doses of their medication or forego other medical care because they can no longer afford it. This results in greater costs to our overall health care system because they then go to the doctor or the emergency room only when they deteriorate and need more expensive treatments.
One of the advantages of UnitedHealthcare’s clinical partnerships with the physicians and hospitals in our network is that they help people who are not taking their medicines for financial or other reasons. Our computer can compile a list of people who didn’t fill their regular prescriptions every month and get that information to the physicians treating them, who can explain that not taking medicine will make you sicker and cost even more money.