In March 2010, President Obama signed sweeping health care reform legislation. The new law changes some health insurance industry practices and strives to make health insurance available to more Americans, a principle that has been a critical part of Highmark’s long-standing mission — providing access to affordable, quality health care, enabling people to lead longer, healthier lives.
Controlling costs is the key
The law takes preliminary steps to solve the real driver of higher health insurance premiums — the ever-increasing cost of medical services. Much more needs to be done to “bend the medical spending curve” to make health care more affordable for American families and businesses. All segments of the health care industry must work together to expand and strengthen programs that bring more value to users of the health care system, control costs, and make the system more efficient:
• Managing and coordinating the care of people with chronic medical conditions
• Conducting research to determine which treatments really work
• Encouraging healthy lifestyles and adopting worksite wellness programs to prevent disease
• Encouraging the adoption of electronic health records and electronic prescribing technology because too many decisions are being made without full information due to outdated, fragmented record-keeping
• Developing new ways to pay hospitals, doctors, and other health care professionals that reward high-quality care
We believe that our country’s employer-based health insurance system is the best way to make health insurance available for the vast majority of Americans and to encourage innovation in delivering high-quality care at an affordable cost.
All of us in health care, including consumers, health care providers, the business community, government, and health insurance companies, must play a role in preserving employer-based health insurance and making it more affordable.