New CEO: Time to take reality pill
David Lewis says we must tackle the health care "affordability crisis." One way to ease the pain: pill-splitters.
By KRIS HUNDLEY
Published April 13, 2006
David Lewis, 48, new chief executive officer of UnitedHealthcare's Central and North Florida division, talked with the Times on Wednesday about his new post.
What's the biggest change you've seen after 25 years in the health insurance business?
Until two years ago, when I enrolled in an HSA (health savings account), I had less financial exposure for health care services than I did when I was 22 years old. The way the benefits industry has evolved, it has continued to insulate the end user from the realities of health care. But it's time for that to end. We have an affordability crisis in this country, and we're on a path where health care costs are going to exceed corporate profits.
How do you convince people who think the affordability crisis might be linked to insurers' record profits?
There are those people who will be supportive and those who aren't, but everybody's got to play.
Employers will be passing along a level of costs that aren't manageable at the employee level.
Almost every existing or prospective customer is requesting a proposal for one of the various consumer-engagement products.
There's no obvious opportunity to mitigate the cost trend other than having the health care consumer have an interest in the value proposition, both from a quality and cost standpoint.
Give me an example of how "consumer-engagement" might work?
If you're on a medication that can be prescribed in a double dose, then split, you practically cut your out-of-pocket expenses in half. So if we see members with maintenance drugs, we send out paper and e-mail reminders about how much they can save by pill splitting. And we say, "And, by the way, may we send you a pill-splitter?"