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Navigating Healthcare Affordability: Working Together to Find Solutions

March 21, 2024

As part of our commitment to making healthcare more affordable and accessible, Premera is sharing insights from a recent Thought Leadership Forum hosted in partnership with the Puget Sound Business Journal in a new series on our Healthsource blog

This ongoing series, Navigating Healthcare Affordability, takes a closer look at topics raised at the forum and how Premera is working to prioritize critical work around these issues. Expert panelists bringing knowledge and experience to the discussion included Lee McGrath, Executive Vice President of Health Care Services at Premera Blue Cross; Dr. Imelda Dacones, Market President of Optum Pacific Northwest; and Brenda Yoo-Young, Managing Director of Slalom.

Everyone deserves affordable healthcare. It is a cornerstone for healthy communities and a thriving economy. However, the long-standing issue with access to affordable care is growing at an alarming rate. A staggering 43% of people with employer-sponsored health plans struggle to afford healthcare. Almost 40% report delaying care or not filling prescriptions for cost-related reasons.

Unfortunately, rising healthcare costs are nothing new, and recent years have introduced new stresses which have driven up costs for medical care. Fighting these trends requires understanding the challenges and pressures faced by the entire healthcare system, and collaboration between payers, providers, and policymakers.

Together, we can, and must, do better.

“We must work with all of the key players across the healthcare industry, along with the larger business community,” McGrath said. “Our goal isn’t to point fingers or place blame, but really to work together to find solutions because the solutions are our collective responsibility.”

Resource stewardship—the judicious use of every healthcare dollar—is one of the ways that healthcare providers are pursuing affordability. “That’s my job as a clinician, to partner with the patient, the consumer, to figure that out and not leave it to them,” said Dr. Dacones. “When we deliver on providing the right care at the right time and the right place, affordability is the outcome.”

Resource stewardship can be cost-effective while still delivering the highest quality care and meeting patient needs efficiently, but of course, resource stewardship alone won’t fix the healthcare affordability crisis.

Premera is proud of its partnerships and progress in finding actionable solutions to affordability issues. Initiatives like value-based care, an emphasis on advanced primary care, and incorporating technology are solutions we are focused on—and will explore in future installments of this series. We look forward to sharing more about how we are working together to rethink how healthcare is delivered and financed, ensuring that everyone plays a part in the solution.

In our next installment of our Navigating Healthcare Affordability series, we will more deeply explore health plan and provider negotiations. Join us as we continue this critical conversation in pursuit of a healthcare system that works better for all.