News & Commentary

Briefly noted August 2013

Frank Diamond

UnitedHealthcare seems to be jumping onto the accountable care bandwagon in a big way. The insurer says it plans to increase payment to providers through contracts linked to quality and cost-efficiency to $50 billion by 2017. “Our unparalleled experience with accountable care models — and there are many — demonstrates that they can work better for everyone in health care, from patients to payers to care providers,” says Austin Pittman, the president of UnitedHealthcare Networks.... Meanwhile, WellPoint must pay a fine of $1.7 million for exposing the personal information of over 600,000 beneficiaries because an online application database could be hacked. WellPoint informed those who may have been affected and beefed up online security. The hacked data includes names, birthdates, addresses, and Social Security numbers.... You can knock yourself silly exercising but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll lose weight, according to researchers at the University of Washington. Even though Americans are exercising more, the obesity epidemic continues to grow. We still consume more calories than we burn off, says the study’s senior author Ali Mokdad, PhD, at the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.... Americans are living longer but not necessarily more happy lives compared to other countries. A study of health statistics in 34 countries published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that rates of substance abuse, psychiatric disorders, and muscle and joint pain all increased in the United States in the last 20 years. Life expectancy in the U.S. increased from 75.2 in 1990 to 78.2 in 2010.

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