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6 Things Customers Want Health Plans to Know

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, January 11, 2012

Don Berwick, the embattled former administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, should be proud. Consumers are embracing the triple aim of healthcare: better care, better health, and lower cost. Okay, they may not be familiar with Berwick's mantra, and they may not understand all the in and outs of healthcare reform, but a look at a consumer survey from the PwC Health Research Institute indicates that they have embraced some of the basic tenets.

Health insurers need to sit up and take notice. Jeff Gitlin, a partner at PwC Health Industries, says the survey results show that consumers are interested in taking a more active and educated role in assessing their healthcare coverage options. "We're seeing a willingness on the part of consumers to look at different care models," he says.

That doesn't mean consumers are going to march into their physician's offices and demand to be part of an accountable care organization, but the survey results do demonstrate that consumers have embraced many of the big ideas of healthcare reform.
Here are some of the key findings of the PwC consumer survey:
Consumers want their health plans to link cost and effectiveness. Just over half (52%) of consumers surveyed indicated interest in value-based insurance plans, which reward their members for using cost-effective treatments while charging higher prices for new treatments where the benefits are not proven. Health plans have been releasing a steady stream of products aimed at meeting this demand, including one old chestnut: the narrow network. Years ago narrow networks were often based around a particular hospital and its contracted providers and reimbursement rates. This time around, health insurers are developing narrow tertiary care networks connected with primary care physicians and based on the delivery of quality and coordinated care.

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