The Pulse from UnitedHealthcare: National Accounts CEO talks cost management

Jessica Paik, National Accounts CEO, shares her insights on the cost challenges facing large employers and how UnitedHealthcare is working to help solve them.

Authored by Jessica Paik, CEO of National Accounts for UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual

Over the course of my 20-year career at UnitedHealthcare, I’ve gotten to hear from a lot of employers about their most pressing concerns, and costs have always been part of our conversations. In recent years, however, the issue has been compounded by the exponential nature of rising health care costs, an increasingly complex and fragmented health care system and the growing demand for more personalized care.

More affordable care matters

At UnitedHealthcare, we are committed to helping solve these challenges for our large employers — and we really believe in the power of a total cost of care approach to do it. This approach considers all the factors that contribute to an employer's health care costs, which can include:

  • Investing in specific health plan and network designs
  • Implementing clinical and care management programs
  • Leveraging digital capabilities to help empower more informed employee health decisions
  • Using data to uncover opportunities to reduce waste and unnecessary costs

At the same time, we realize that no two employers are alike. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, and that’s why my team is always quick to listen to employers and hear what they’re facing and what their unique workforce needs are before we bring any solutions to the table.

Data also plays a critical role in our conversations with employers, because it helps validate what we’re hearing and provides a more complete picture of the underlying factors that may be driving some of the challenges faced by a specific group population. And, at UnitedHealthcare, we are able to do that in a way that is distinctive in the market, because we have one of the largest datasets in the country.

Data also helps us find opportunities for reducing employer costs. For instance, we’re able to see when employees choose the most appropriate provider for their given health situation, whether they’re taking advantage of cost-saving preventive care or whether they’re utilizing the most appropriate site of care.

Our data is also working to empower employees to make more informed health decisions. With our SurestTM health plan, employees can search, compare and choose care before an appointment, from anywhere, at any time. On® and through the UnitedHealthcare app®, a different platform, employees can do much of the same — and these digital platforms are really working together to put the power of data into the employee’s hands. In doing so, they continue to be a game changer in driving lower costs.

Choices like these can really make a difference on an employer’s total cost of care. Provider networks are also increasingly being used as a means for managing costs. A recent report showed that 46% of large employers with 20,000 or more employees were relying on navigation or advocacy services to steer employees to higher-value care,1 and we’re certainly seeing this trend across our clients as well. Even when they offer their workforces broad provider networks, our Advocacy solutions help employees find care at the best possible price, which is moving the needle on costs.

We also know preventive care may help reduce costs over the long term, and UnitedHealthcare programs designed to encourage and incentivize members to engage in preventive care visits and preventive screenings have garnered an 8% increase in preventive care utilization.2

All of this has enabled us to deliver a total cost of care that is ~10% lower on average when compared to our competition.That matters, and that’s why my team is continually working to leverage data and insights to help employers better and more strategically manage their health care costs.

I know the pressure is on us to do more to help reduce the cost of health care, and, frankly, that’s what energizes me each and every day. I look forward to continuing the conversation with the employers we serve and the consultants we work with to solve this lofty challenge together.

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