UnitedHealth projects shaky Medicaid redetermination aftermath

UnitedHealth is predicting an upcoming “disturbance” among its Medicaid programs as members continue to disenroll after the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The company's stock price dropped following CEO Andrew Witty’s remarks at a recent investor conference, with the price still down at the time of publication. Other insurers, like Centene, Molina Healthcare and Elevance Health, have seen their stocks take a dive as well, though Humana’s has since recovered.

“We’ve come through this prolonged redetermination cycle in Medicaid,” Witty explained. “Making sure the utilization, rates and everything else stay in perfect synchrony in a multiquarter cycle, there’s probably going to be some disturbance in that.”

However, UnitedHealth does not anticipate redeterminations nor claims management issues stemming from the Change Healthcare cyberattack will disrupt its soon-to-be-submitted bids.

The insurer expressed five ways in which the company can continue to develop and target investments: value-based care, its benefits business, the pharmacy business, technology and financial services.

Witty said value-based care is a “fundamentally better” way to improve health outcomes and added the shift to value-based care is financially sound for payers and better for the overall health system than other models. The shift should also lead to less physician burnout.

He also took a moment to defend Optum Rx, the company's pharmacy benefit manager.

“It’s become a real champion and leader for choice and transparency, and, while there are a lot of people that are critical of the PBMs, they are the only mechanism in the system which acts to negotiate on drug pricing on behalf of the vast majority of participants in the marketplace,” said Witty.

The company declined to give a glance into its 2025 strategy.