UnitedHealthcare to Double Value-Based Contracts With Providers by 2017

UnitedHealthcare, the Minnetonka, Minn.-based health insurer subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, said it plans to more than double its accountable care health plan contracts with hospitals and physicians by 2017.

Currently, UnitedHealthcare ties $20 billion of its reimbursements to hospitals, physicians and other providers through contracts that link payment to quality and cost efficiency. By 2017, the health insurer said it wants to increase that number to $50 billion.

UnitedHealthcare has accountable care and value-based contracts with more than 575 hospitals and 75,000 physicians across the United States. In February, it joined with Denver-based primary care group practice New West Physicians to create an accountable care organization. In October, UnitedHealthcare and Manhasset, N.Y.-based North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System partnered for a new health plan that tied reimbursements to quality health outcomes and medical cost reductions.

Moving toward value-based reimbursements has been a major driver of healthcare reform, and UnitedHealthcare is not the only commercial payer to signal a major shift toward this strategy. Aetna and Cigna have been two of the most active private health insurers to create ACOs and accountable care deals with hospitals and physicians.

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