UnitedHealth Group Statement On Health Care Costs
WASHINGTON, DC (March 4, 2010) – UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] today released the following statement from Stephen J. Hemsley, the company's president and chief executive officer, after he and other industry representatives met at the White House with Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services:
"We sought to make clear our longstanding commitment to expanding access to quality care for all Americans, and also to discuss the many factors that are driving up the cost of care for millions of people across the United States. To achieve true and sustainable reform, it is essential to first bring costs under control.
"Trying to focus the debate on insurance premiums masks the complexity of the challenge our country faces to effectively reform our health care system. The cost of insurance is driven by the underlying cost pressures we see throughout the health care system. The majority of our medical cost increases will be from hospitals and doctors charging higher prices and, to a lesser extent, from increased treatment volumes. The prices of many branded and specialty drugs are sharply rising – in some cases by 20 to 40 percent in the past year alone. Furthermore, according to a new report from the United Health Foundation, obesity is on a path to account for one-fifth of our nation's health care spending by the end of the decade.
"We know the cost challenge from our first-hand experience serving the health care needs of 70 million people. Unfortunately, up to this point the health reform debate has yet to truly confront the cost issue. Our participation in today's meeting affirms our commitment to constructive engagement and a desire to identify a fiscally responsible, sustainable path forward that truly bends the cost curve. If we can slow the soaring cost of care, our shared goal of expanding access and improving quality will be achievable."