Aetna, Other Insurers Develop Plans To Help Cut Costs

The Wall Street Journal: “Health insurer Aetna Inc. (AET) is developing plans to pay a major San Diego medical group enhanced fees for providing extra services to keep patients healthier, and to share any resulting cost savings. With a similar cost-saving goal, UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) has started to base payments to its network providers partly on cost and quality measures, and Cigna Corp. (CI) guarantees corporate clients it will lower employee health risks. Fueled by the weak economy, the health overhaul and anxious clients, insurers are taking steps to lower medical costs, including introducing new pay structures to encourage care that averts hospitalizations. They are also offering employers narrower, lower-cost provider networks, prodding enrollees to form healthier habits and pick less expensive doctors, and getting tougher in hospital price negotiations” (Brin, 10/7). reports on Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who spoke about health care legislation with some business leaders: “Gillibrand found many business owners were concerned about the price hikes of insurance premiums when it came to health care costs. … Although Gillibrand offered no direct proof of insurance companies ‘gouging’ prices, the first-term senator was ‘offended’ enough to announce a potential investigation into the cost spike of insurance premiums” (Scee, 10/8).

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