NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 27, 2005

UnitedHealth Group, Inc., one of the largest health insurers, is promoting consumer-driven health care by selling and managing plans that include lower premiums, higher deductibles and health savings accounts (HSAs), says the Wall Street Journal.

The idea is that people will shop for the best health care and the lowest cost when they have to spend more of their own money. Moreover, with the cost of insuring a family at about $10,000 a year, employers are looking for alternatives as well. UnitedHealth hopes to appeal to America's employers and the country's 45 million uninsured through consumer-driven plans. They have already had some success, says the Journal:

  • Currently, about 1 million members are enrolled in UnitedHealth's consumer-directed plans, up from 560,000 less than a year ago.
  • UnitedHealth has required its own 41,000 employees to shift to consumer-directed plans.
  • In one case, a young couple who could not afford $400 a month for a traditional health plan bought an individual plan from UnitedHealth for $100 a month and a $5,000 annual deductible.

Furthermore, UnitedHealth is providing information on its Web site to help consumers be smart about medical care and find the best quality and price, although opaque pricing of medical services often makes this difficult.

By 2010, consumers will have an estimated $10 billion to $26 billion in health savings accounts, says the Journal.

Source: Vanessa Fuhrmann, "A Big Insurer Bets on a Hot Trend: Shopping Around for Health Care," Wall Street Journal, October 24, 2005.

For text (subscription required):


Browse more articles on Health Issues