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UnitedHealth Suggests Ways to Trim a Half-Trillion Dollars in Health Costs

May 28, 2009
Related Topics: Global Business Issues, Health and Wellness, Workforce Planning, Latest News
he U.S. government could save more than half a trillion dollars during the next decade simply by pushing initiatives to reduce medical errors, to promote better treatment of chronic and advanced illnesses and to step up case management, according to a study released by UnitedHealth Group’s Center for Health Reform and Modernization.

With widespread adoption of programs already used by UnitedHealth, federal payers would shave more than $540 billion in health care costs, according to the study.

“Our data and experience show that—working in partnership with physicians, hospitals and other care providers—in practice it is possible to get more value out of health care spending so as to fund increased access to high-quality care,” Simon Stevens, UnitedHealth Group executive vice president, said in a written statement.

The report, which puts a price tag on 15 potential ways to wring savings out of the $2.5 trillion-per-year health care sector, comes at a time when payers, providers and labor groups have made a highly public commitment to help lower overall health care costs.

Many of the options are separately being mulled by federal lawmakers, who have been charged with drafting legislation that would reshape the current health system model. For instance, one calls for better adherence to evidence-based clinical practices while another champions the medical home model.

Combined, those two provisions would save $122 billion during 10 years, the study states.

“This report provides concrete examples of how we can modernize our health care system in a thoughtful and sustainable way, partly through proven programs that are already working,” Stevens said.

Filed by Matthew DoBias of Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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