Monday, October 8, 2012

Embracing Change

Last week I attended the Greater Philadelphia Association of Health Underwriters (GPAHU) annual conference and had the priviledge of sharing ideas with some of the most respected local health insurance leaders through a panel discussion. Joining me on the panel were representatives from Coventry, HealthAmerica, Independence Blue Cross, CIGNA and Aetna. The theme for this year’s conference was Embracing Change – obviously a very appropriate topic with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). This paradigm shift in the health care industry requires that we put aside our differences and align our shared objectives to improve the quality, cost and delivery of health care.

Although the Supreme Court handed down its decision in June, the details of how the law will be enacted are still being ironed out. While it is imperative to work with others in the industry to determine what will affect positive change, the changes set forth by the decision also necessitates innovation by our companies to best enhance the quality of health care system. So during our panel discussion we talked about where we have been, where we are now and where we are going.

We discussed the chages to our minimum loss ratio (MLR), federal and state driven health exchanges, accountable care organizations, underwriting, distribution channels, consumer driven health plans and of course, wellness programs. Because one thing we all agreed upon is that a lot of the heavy lifting in the march towards a better health care system will have to be done by each of us individually.

And we got a lot of tough questions like, what is our position on self-funding alternatives for small businesses?, how do we envision the role of the broker in exhanges?, an what are some of our specific initiatives in the area of pay for performance?. Whew, can you say “hot-seat”?

What I shared with the panel and nearly 500 underwriters in attendance, is an overview of UnitedHealthcare’s position on health care reform. For starters, UnitedHealthcare is meeting all of the PPACA requirements to date. In Pennsylvania, we are reducing administrative expenses and increasing transparency across the health care industry by introducting innovative new products, like our Multi-Choice plan which allows small employers with less than 50 employees better manage their health care costs and at the same time offer their employees more health insurance options. Or helping in the battle against the wide spread of diabetes by partenering with organizations like Comcast and the YMCA to implement clincially based diabetes prevention programs that work! We have and will continue to make changes that support health care innovation while still maintaining our commitment to helping people live healthier lives.

By creating our own individual innovations, while rallying together to build partnerships, we can improve health care outcomes, lower costs, and increase overall access to care by navigating the changes the PPACA will continue to bring. While we may be competitors out on the field, when it comes to the future of health care, it’s important for us to all be on the same team.

To check out the full spectrum of ways UnitedHealthcare is doing it’s part in Philadelphia click on

Sue Schick with panel of health insurance industry leaders at the Greater Philadelphia Area Health Underwriters Conference

Philadelphia transit buses carry UnitedHealthcare's healthy living message throughout the city

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