In a prior post I buried the lede, so excuse a retweet. One subtext of the BizWeek article is a kind of backhanded tribute to the healthcare giants' strength in diversification, through subsidiaries that provide plan administration, data crunching, software, etc. In a way, the article undercuts its central premise -- that the insurance industry will gut "universal" coverage -- by suggesting that giants like UnitedHealth are equipped to survive in almost any payment system. One unspoken possibility the article points toward is that the health insurance industry might complete an already partial transformation from insurer to administrator. Terhune and Epstein note the role in public healthcare of one UnitedHealth subsidiary:
The authors might further have noted that more than half of Americans who get their health plans from their employers are in self-funded plans. These plans are for the most part run by so-called third party adminstrators (TPAs), some of which are owned by the largest health insurers; UnitedHealth owns the third-largest, UMR. I suppose -- and need to read further -- that Medicare Advantage plans amount to another form of plan administration without financial risk. Add in the revenues that conglomerates like United get from data processing subsidiaries -- noted by BizWeek -- and health reform of any kind could ultimately prove to be win-win for the "insurers." Even under a single payer system, American style, they might be lucratively employed as the Blackwaters of healthcare delivery.
United's AmeriChoice unit is the largest government contractor administering state Medicaid programs for the poor and federally sponsored plans for children. AmeriChoice's revenue rose 34% last year, to $6 billion, and it has 2.7 million people enrolled. Those numbers should continue rising under reform since congressional Democrats are proposing an expansion of Medicaid to help achieve universal coverage. More of the working poor would qualify for Medicaid, and AmeriChoice can sell itself to states as the leading service provider.
MedPAC: Obama's rudder for the healthcare battleship
The Times points another arrow at fee-for-service
Did Obama read Atul Gawande? cont.