NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 29, 2009

There are 15 steps that could be taken to save $540 billion in federal health care costs over the next 10 years, suggests UnitedHealth Group's Center for Health Reform and Modernization.  Simon Stevens, head of the center, said that the report "puts some flesh on the bones" of the pledge made by health care industry groups earlier this month to cut health care costs, noting that the recommendations are already being used by UnitedHealth to reduce costs and can be applied to Medicare.

Some recommended steps include:

  • Providing patients with incentives for going to high-quality, efficient physicians.
  • Reducing unnecessary care.
  • Granting physicians incentives for providing comprehensive and preventive care.
  • Providing nurse practitioners at nursing homes to manage illness and reduce avoidable hospitalizations to save $166 billion.
  • Using evidence-based care management with preventive care to reduce avoidable hospitalizations and save $102 billion.
  • Analyzing claims before they are paid to prevent duplicate billing and other administrative errors to save $57 billion.
  • Reducing the use of advanced imaging technologies to save $13 billion.

"We are issuing (the recommendations) as a constructive contribution to the debate on how national health reform can proceed," Stevens said.  He added, "What we know is there is a huge variation in cost and quality across the health care system," and the proposed steps are "some of the practical techniques that help us get a grip on that."

Source: Kevin Diaz, "UnitedHealth shares ideas for saving $540 billion," Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune, May 27, 2009.


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