New Intermountain health plan looks to limit yearly rate increases

With its new insurance plan, Utah-based health system Intermountain Healthcare plans to limit the rising costs consumers face by holding yearly rate increases at set amounts--a move that if successful could lead other plans to follow suit, according to an article from the New York Times.

SelectHealth Share--Intermountain's new health plan--is looking to help keep its rate increases to one-third to one-half less than the typical employer sees. This new system, Intermountain says, will produce savings of $2 billion over the next five years. The move could be precendent-setting, as Intermountain has established itself as a health system able to track and analyze the costs and quality of patient care, the Times adds.

The approach of locking it health insurance rate increases is attractive to employers because it becomes a predictive expense, the article explains. Only a few other health systems are taking similar steps as Intermountain, as some have capped rate increases and others have started exploring much lower rate increases. 

There are risks, however, with locking in prices prior to knowing how that will affect future finances. Intermountain could suffer huge losses if it has to spend a lot on caring for patients, the Times notes. Additionally, if other large insurers try to adopt a similar "guarantee," they may end up cutting corners in order to be sure they don't lose any money.

Todd Craghead, Intermountain's vice president of revenue cycle, has previously voiced support for price transparency in healthcare, saying that burden is often left up to providers since many insurers do "nothing" to provide cost information for enrollees.

To learn more:
- read the New York Times article

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