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Can You Believe This? UnitedHealthcare Is Committed To Improving the Healthcare System

Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE

UnitedHealthcare had a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal Monday, March 19.2007. There is a temperature thermometer in the top left hand corner on a red page implying something has a fever.

They have to be joking. Doesn’t UnitedHealthcare understand it is a major contributor to making the healthcare system sick?

UnitedHealthcare has a terrific tag line “UnitedHealthcare Healing Healthcare. Together.” It is a great grabber but has little meaning.

The advertisement defines the healthcare system’s illness.” They say the healthcare system isn’t healthy. There is no denying it. A system that was designed to make you feel better often just makes things worse. Costs are out of control, access is inconsistent, quality is too variable and the entire process has become unwieldy.”

UnitedHealthcare claims that costs are out of control. Why? Who paid their CEO 1.8 billion dollar over 8 years? The amount equals 300 million dollar a year in salary and benefits to one person. UnitedHealthcare. What are the other top executives at UnitedHealthcare receiving in salary and benefits? Do you think these salaries affect the cost of insurance?

UnitedHealthcare has made access to care inconsistent. Ask any physician caring for its members. Is its pre-certification system and the restriction of access to care dangerous to its members’ health. Ask its members. The key question is “am I covered?”.

I am convinced UnitedHealthcare can not define quality properly. In my experience insurance companies define quality to their economic benefit and not the patients or physicians. Remember Dr. Petak’s example with Blue Cross/ Blue Shield of Texas. UnitedHealthcare can not possibly define real quality medical care with the claims data it has available.

Is the process unwieldy? You bet it is. Who creates all the paperwork for physicians so they have less time to spend with their patients? United Healthcare! Who rejects or modifies claims payment resulting in physicians and hospitals appeals leading to more paper work and more cost? United Healthcare! Does this increase premium cost. Most certainly.

The advertisement goes on to say “Every day, more Americans are added to the rolls of the uninsured.”

Who wants only to insure non sick or at risk people? UnitedHealthcare! A fifty year old Type 2 diabetic with hypertension and elevated cholesterol lost his job. He is now self-employed. He can not quality for an individual health insurance policy for him and his family from UnitedHealthcare because he is a high risk patient. UnitedHealthcare is required by law to insure him in a group policy if he was employed by a company that qualified for UnitedHealthcare’s group insurance. UnitedHealthcare has simply raised the premium on the group health insurance to his employer because they have high risk employee’s until the employer could not afford to provide insurance for the group. This patient profile makes up the profiles of two thirds of the uninsured in America today.

“There is an epidemic and it’s time we found a cure.” No kidding.

They go on to say; “At UnitedHealthcare, we are committed to improving the health care system. We aim to take what’s wrong and make it right. “

A welcome change of heart, but what is their plan?

“Simplifying everything and eliminating red tape.
Ensuring access to the right care anywhere in the U.S.
Empowering you to make better decision about your health 24/7
Providing information to doctors to better support people
Rewarding first-rate physicians for first-rate medicine.

All while making your health care more affordable.”

UnitedHealthcare figures we are a “Sound Bite Society” and in my opinion they decided to feed us a couple of sound bites to make us happy. TXU tried to do the same thing in Texas while destroying our health by wanting to build 11 dirty coal plants.

To my surprise, Texans came through. We did not buy the sound bite. We are smarter than they think we are. It is painful to understand the details of most issues but somehow we Texans rallied round and did let them sneak their sound bite through. Enough is enough. We need leadership and action, not words. We are smarter than they think.

I hope the country is ready to reject empty promises from UnitedHealthcare. Let them show us that they are going to reform their ways with deeds and not throw disinformation our way.

In conclusion the UnitedHealthcare”s adververtisement states;

“ Will all this be simple? No Simple doesn’t mean simple-minded. Sometimes simple means ingenious. Sometimes it means revolutionary. And no one is better prepared to lead this revolution with you that the strongest, most committed health care company in the nation. Simpler process, smarter solution, better results for you.
UnitedHealthcare Healing Health care. Together.

The UnitedHealthcare advertisement compelled me to look of the definition of disinformation in Wikepedia.

Disinformation is the deliberate dissemination of false information. It may include the distribution of forged documents, manuscripts, and photographs, or propagation of malicious rumors and fabricated intelligence. In the context of espionage or military intelligence, it is the spreading of deliberately false information to mislead an enemy as to one’s position or course of action. It also includes the distortion of true information in such a way as to render it useless.
Disinformation techniques may also be found in commerce and government, used by one group to try to undermine the position of a competitor.
Disinformation differs from propaganda in that its true source is concealed, and it usually involves some clandestine action. Unlike propaganda and Big Lie techniques designed to engage emotional support, disinformation is designed to manipulate the audience at the rational level by either discrediting conflicting information or supporting false conclusions. Another technique of concealing facts, or censorship is also used if the group can affect such control. When channels of information cannot be completely closed, they can be rendered useless by filling them with disinformation, effectively lowering their signal-to-noise ratio.

Is this advertisement disinformation or propaganda or both? Does UnitedHealthcare think we are stupid?

UnitedHealthcare has to show us what they are going to do and do it. Not throw sound bites at us.

  • Dr. J. Griffiths

    I could not agree more. United Healthcare (and the term is used loosely) has done more to foul up the system, make themselves, not the doctor the care provider, and has NO accurate data to support ANY of its’ decisions. They have no “medical necessity” parameters, just a basic “money vs risk” system. They are the worst example of healthcare abuse in the nation.

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