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What are Health Plan Executives Thinking?

Les Masterson, for HealthLeaders Media, October 20, 2009

Health leaders spend most of their time in their own silos. Health insurance executives attend events with other health plan leaders, physician leaders talk with other physicians, and the hospital C-suite stays focused on hospital business.

This communication breakdown has left health leaders heavily guarded in their bunkers with hurt feelings and often times not understanding the other healthcare pillars. This has also led to health leaders from the different groups having quite different opinions about healthcare and how to improve services while reducing costs.

One only needs to view the current health reform debate to show there are varying opinions on how best to proceed.

With our publication and Web site, HealthLeaders Media is able to break down those silos and let hospital, physician, and health plan leaders learn about what the others think.

This is especially true in the annual HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey. Last year's survey saw hundreds of health leaders offer their thoughts on important industry questions—and for the first time, health insurance leaders took part.

The annual survey includes responses from key benchmark questions for all health leaders, including health insurance executives, physician leaders, and hospital CEOs, CFOs, and CIOs. With those results, we compare each area's priorities—and most notably see where there is disagreement.

The 2009 survey found two large disagreements between health plans and physician leaders:

  • Health plan executives thought there were two ways payers could improve relationships with providers: pay-for-performance programs that focus on certain health measures and speeding up processing, fixing, and paying claims. Only 19% of health plan respondents thought increasing reimbursements would help the situation. However, when physician leaders were asked the same question, more than half of respondents pointed to increased reimbursements while only 7% agreed with the health plan's top response—pay for performance.

  • Forty-two percent of health plan respondents thought consumer-directed health plans offered the best hope for healthcare, while more than half of physicians chose a government intervention.

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