UnitedHealth creates 'start-over' insurer Harken Health

A new health insurer is making a splash in the Atlanta and Chicago marketplaces, according to the Star Tribune.

Harken Health, one of Minnetonka, Minn.-based UnitedHealthcare's subsidiaries, is run as an independent entity. It's on the federal exchange in Atlanta and Chicago, but it's doing things a little differently.

"We really wanted to do a start-over, a do-over in this market, to say: 'You know what, we're going to bring something that is very, very different,'" said CEO Tom Vanderheyden, according to the report.

To that end, Harken is attempting to reshape the healthcare system. Instead of charging a premium, Harken Health collects a "membership fee" from each person. It doesn't charge copays or coinsurance, and it calls its clinics "health centers." If members visit one of the insurer's health centers, they receive unlimited access to primary care. Even its name — Harken Health — is intended to capture the idea of listening to patients.

After launching six health centers in Atlanta and six in Chicago, Harken Health is looking at expanding to new markets. "We are growing," Mr. Vanderheyden said. "It is going to be a meaningful expansion this year."

More articles on payer issues:
AMA, physicians to Florida AG: Stop the Humana-Aetna merger
Could Humana's past predict the effects of its merger with Aetna?
CMS fines Humana $3.1M for Medicare violations

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