U.S. Health Care Sector Moves Rapidly To Provide Consumer Information On Value

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Health Care Sector

America's health care sector is shifting rapidly to a system where patients can get better information about the quality and cost of their care, and there is competition to provide them with the best value.

Less than a year after launching his Value-Driven Health Care Initiative, Secretary Leavitt announced that more than 100 million Americans are now served by health plans that are committed to providing consumers with transparent quality and cost information. The federal government; half of the states; about 775 employers, including almost half of the top 200 U.S. corporations; and numerous unions, communities, doctors and hospitals have joined the movement.

"We are organizing the health care market to achieve better quality health care, at lower cost, for all Americans. That is the definition of value," Secretary Leavitt said. "Yet until now, our health care system has been marked by a lack of consumer information to support value-based decisions."

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In August of 2006, President Bush signed an Executive Order committing the federal government to the "four cornerstones" of value-driven care: health information technology, public reporting of provider quality information, public reporting of cost information, and incentives for value comparison. Since that time, Secretary Leavitt has traveled to 34 states to talk to communities that are piloting this approach, medical associations that are assisting in the development of quality information, businesses, unions, and other employers who are interested in implementing this approach for their employees.

Most plans that are committed to the value-based approach, including all federal agencies that contract with health plans, will embody the principles of value-driven care in their next contracting cycle, generally for 2008. And most enrollees in these plans are expected to have access to Web-based "report cards" on quality or cost within the next 12 months.

Progress toward a value-driven system is being made because of action across the spectrum of stakeholders:

-- Employers: As of this month, about 775 employers have committed their health plans to value-based, consumer information approaches, representing about 21 million employees and their families covered by company health plans. A total of 97 of the top 200 U.S. corporations, as well as 25 states and state employee health plans have committed to value-driven care.

-- Federal Health Programs: Federal programs were committed to value-driven approaches under Executive Order 13410, signed by President Bush on August 22, 2006.

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