Posts Tagged United Healthcare

Insurance CEO Paid $66,000,000 — for what?

hatinringThe author of this blog is willing to be the CEO of United Healthcare for a mere $60,000,000 / year.  That would save the insurance company 6 million dollars a year — a real bargain.   So why does United Healthcare need a new CEO?

The Wall Street Journal reported today that United Healthcare (the nations largest healthcare insurer) can’t seem to make enough money with clients who get insurance on the government exchanges.  They feel other insurance companies should have those pesky patients, who cost more for a couple of years, because they did not have insurance before.

United Healthcare (NYSE:UNH) has been having a lackluster financial situation for the past few months, like almost all other stocks — perhaps a little worse.  Reports show the health insurer will lower its earnings-per-share outlook to $6 per share, down from its earlier forecast of $6.25 to $6.35 per share.

Could it be that the 25 cent drop in earnings is due to business on the exchanges? — surely it’s not the fault of the CEO?   But, why take a chance, get a new CEO.  The company could get a new CEO for half the price and even might be able to snag someone with a PhD in economics to help figure out what to do.   Duh — lower the operating costs!

Presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson*, says insurance companies should be low-cost non-profit operations simply to process claims.  It makes a lot of sense.  Why is so much profit being extracted from the US healthcare system by insurance companies?  It does not need to be that way.  The companies keep about 20% to 25% of premiums for CEO salary, expenses and profits.  In France, insurance companies are limited to 6%.  Yes, it can be done.

 


 

* This is not a political endorsement, just an observation.

 

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Reduce choice of provider — insurance saves money

choicePatients like a choice of healthcare providers but never are willing to pay much for that opportunity.  Recently, insurance companies have taken advantage of shrinking the available panel of physicians to select those that are both less expensive and provide higher quality.  The higher quality part is obviously secondary.

Electa Draper of the Denver Post reported 7/27/14 “Coloradans could lose medical choices, but save money”.  The essence of the article was a report on the United Healthcare (UHC) plan to “narrow the panel” of available physicians.  $100 per month is reported as the possible  savings for subscribers to the plan.

UHC is the largest insurance carrier in the US.  This national strategy to “narrow the panel” will save someone some money; but, the amount of leverage this gives to quality is nebulous.  This huge insurance company could raise US healthcare quality to number 25 from number 26 in the world — sadly they don’t have much ambition for international competition.

The lack of transparency is striking:

  • will all the cost savings be passed on to the consumer?
  • will CEO Stephen Hemsley’s salary go higher than $106 milllion?
  • physicians seem easy to squeeze for money; what about drug companies, device makers and hospitals?
  • what quality measures cause physicians to be excluded?
  • forcing patients to change doctors as employers change insurance plans is common practice — when will this stop?
  • will UHC or any insurance company saying they intend to improve quality also reduce errors?  Will they stand shoulder to shoulder with physicians who are named in medical error suits?
  • will UHC reduce patient waiting times?
  • will UHC drop Medicare patients and stick with younger healthier patients?

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