OptumHealth CEO Discusses Solutions to Improve Health Care Affordability

May 7, 2021 12:00 PM ET

UnitedHealth Group

In the United States, the cost of care is continuing to rise. 43% of working-age adults did not have stable health insurance coverage last year, and 25% of adults with "adequate coverage" reported trouble paying medical bills in 2020, according to the Commonwealth Fund.

Speaking at a virtual event on health care costs hosted by Axios, OptumHealth Chief Executive Officer Dr. Wyatt Decker discussed opportunities to improve affordability by reducing health care cost trends and reducing out-of-pocket expenses for consumers.

Solutions to Improve Health Care Affordability and Reduce Costs

Read the Q&A below to learn more about issues and solutions Dr. Decker discussed with Axios Vice President of Communications Yolanda Taylor Brignoni. 

What are consumers experiencing related to their health care costs?

The cost of health care in the United States has continued to rise at an accelerating pace. It’s the number one source of debt and concern for consumers – even before COVID-19. In fact, per person spending is at its highest level in history. To address these concerns, we’re focused on making health care more person-focused, and delivering what people want: convenience, access, and care that is high-quality and affordable.  

How can value-based care help mitigate rising costs?

We can make health care more affordable for consumers, governments and employers by supporting policies that build on what’s working today. We need to focus on solutions that drive out health care waste. One significant opportunity is to provide care in a lower-cost setting. For example, patients can safely and efficiently receive outpatient surgical care at ambulatory surgical centers for 50% less than a hospital and avoid the need to stay overnight. This solution could save more than $100 billion in Medicare over 10 years and lower health care costs for consumers while maintaining high-quality outcomes.

How are you responding to consumers’ desires for a health care system that prioritizes consumer choice, flexibility and transparency?

We have an enormous opportunity to make health care simpler by putting the decision-making with good information and support in the hands of each person, removing the friction points and strengthening consumer engagement. This can be done by providing telehealth options and leveraging smart and enabled solutions through digital tools to give consumers easy access to health care with excellent outcomes. One solution is the PreCheck MyScript tool, which enables physicians to choose the most logical and affordable prescriptions for their patients’ conditions, resulting in a savings of more than $200 per prescription.

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