Healthcare Payers Not Very Well Liked, Go Figure

Health insurance is like politics – there’s big money. It’s always a changing field and there are very few people who actually like what goes on in either sector. What brings about these supposed indictments? The 11th annual ReviveHealth Trust Index, that’s what. And in it, Americans don’t trust the healthcare industry and they especially distrust health insurance plans. Go figure; no surprise here.

Wait, what? Yep: Two-thirds of consumer respondents say they would prefer “Medicare for all” over the current healthcare system, or socialized care. No muss, no fuss. A system where government pays for all and the user enjoys the benefit for free (until the tax bills start to roll in, of course).  

The mistrust within the industry goes well beyond age, education, politics and socio-economics, says Brandon Edwards, CEO of ReviveHealth. The survey of consumers, practicing physicians, hospital and health system executives and health insurance executives found that health system executives and health plan executives don’t trust one another. Payers received a collective failing grade in the Trust Index, which the survey attributed to “aggressive negotiation tactics, increased market share and narrow networks, and administrative inefficiencies.”

ReviveHealth researchers say factors leading to payer mistrust include the hassle of working with payers and the “lack of progress toward new models of payment and care.” The hassle of working with payers is not defined in the study. As expected, patients trust physicians and hospitals more than health plans. Many respondents say their healthcare coverage is worse than before. "Before" is not defined in the study. Does that mean under the ACA or prior?

Likewise, 38 percent of health plan executives say contract negotiations with provider organizations have gotten harder over the past year, with a major issues being a “lack of progress toward new models of payment and care.”

Change in the sector isn’t happening soon enough, many believe, both for those on the inside and the outside of the industry. The sector is trying to balance the value-based program while moving away from the volume-based set up, but payers complain they must take on more risk while their physician counterparts must take on bundled payments, and a variety of payment models.

Apparently, this uncertainty is further eroding the market’s trust in all parties.

One way to reverse the trend of mistrust is with more payer-provider partnerships, suggests Healthcare Dive. As payers and providers join forces to create value-based contracts and population health management initiatives, they can work to eliminate redundancies and administrative burdens. Aetna and Banner Health's joint venture, Banner | Health is a good example of this. According to the source, the partnership is working to improve consumer experience by fully integrating providers.

Tom Grote, CEO of the Banner | Aetna joint venture, tells Healthcare Dive that the two companies came together with a focus on the individual as the center of care – “If we keep the customer — the end user — in mind and build partnerships with that as our North Star, we believe we will have a more successful, efficient and collaborative health system."

Which is certainly one way the industry could reverse the rapidly declining trust in healthcare. 

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Scott Rupp

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Scott E. Rupp is a writer and an award-winning journalist focused on healthcare technology. He has worked as a public relations executive for a major electronic health record/practice management vendor, and he currently manages his own agency, millerrupp. In addition to writing for a variety of publications, Scott also offers his insights on healthcare technology and its leaders on his site, Electronic Health Reporter.

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