Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Marketplace reform may improve the health care system more than the new law does.

The federal legislation recently signed by our President aside, changes to our health care system are occurring every day in the marketplace. Employers, insurers, physicians and health care facilities are communicating and collaborating to come up with new programs and policies that lower the cost of health care and increase the quality of care for those who are already covered.

Take, for example, UnitedHealthcare’s new Diabetes Health Plan, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.

Employers saw that a rise in obesity and unhealthy lifestyles has caused the numbers of diabetic and pre-diabetic employees to spike, increasing sick days and raising health care costs. To meet this growing workforce challenge, we developed a first-of-its-kind health insurance plan that rewards diabetic and pre-diabetic employees who routinely follow steps to help manage their condition – such as regular blood sugar checks, routine exams and preventative screenings – and use wellness coaching.

By working together to implement the Diabetes Health Plan, employers and insurance carriers are helping employees better manage a personal health condition and improve their quality of life. This collaboration not only saves employers and employees money, but also helps lower overall health care costs by increasing the use of preventative care and disease management initiatives.

Marketplace reform is always incremental: someone gets an idea and tries it out. If it works, others imitate and improve. If it fails, the market moves on.

I’m not saying that there is no place for federal reform. But I don’t think anyone should underestimate the power of the market to lead change. Each small step in the market carries us closer to a more ideal health care system that insures more people and does it more cost-effectively.

On a side note, I want to take a moment to thank all of you who contributed to our March of Dimes "March for Babies" walks. We raised $2,778.00 to improve the health of babies! I really enjoyed walking this year and sincerely appreciate your support.

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