Allina CEO: High-deductible plans don't improve health care

Providing care support
Dr. Penny Wheeler, president and CEO of Allina Health in Minneapolis, Minn. March 29, 2011.
Jeffrey Thompson | MPR Photo file

High-deductible plans that lead people to avoid medical care are not helping to improve health or reduce costs, said Allina Health CEO Dr. Penny Wheeler.

Timely attention to ongoing illness should be encouraged — not discouraged — because that reduces overall health care costs, she said on MPR News with Kerri Miller.

"To have these high deductibles that have people with chronic illnesses not getting their follow-up care for their diabetes or their heart disease or something like that, that's a travesty," Wheeler said.

There's a long way to go in shifting the health care system to rewarding providers for improved health outcomes, she said. Right now, reducing admissions and procedures cuts revenue.

Wheeler said an Allina cancer care program that reduced hospital admissions and overall expense cut into revenue. She says Allina is still heavily dependent on fees for procedures and admissions.

"Right now, we still are largely paid for how many things we do to how many people and how much that ramps up — that's 97 percent of Allina's revenue," she said. "Three percent is based on how well we perform and what outcomes we give."

Minnesota is working to link provider compensation to patient outcomes. The federal Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services have provided $45 million in grants with a goal of saving $111 million in health care costs over three years.

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