Providing High Quality Care at Lower Costs? The New York Times Highlights Intermountain Healthcare and SelectHealth


For decades, the big news story in healthcare has been increasing costs and premiums that consumers and employers struggle to pay for. But The New York Times’ Reed Abelson recently wrote about Intermountain Healthcare and SelectHealth’s innovative approach to lowering costs while providing high-quality care.

And these are not just little savings in prescriptions or doctor visits, but savings to the tune of $2 billion over the next five years—savings that remain in the community in the form of lower premiums and other lower costs to consumers and businesses. In her article, Abelson says, “Health systems and insurers are closely watching Intermountain’s rollout. It has established itself as a leading health system by tracking and analyzing costs and the quality of patient care, allowing it to improve treatments and reduce unnecessary expenses.”

One way Intermountain looks to address this is through a new insurance plan called SelectHealth Share. “This is not a repackaging of the same old stuff,” Patricia R. Richards, SelectHealth chief executive officer told the Times. “We’re fundamentally changing everything.” By involving the patient, the providers (physician and healthcare system) and the payer (insurer) in the entire process from prevention to appropriate care, SelectHealth Share expects to keep costs and premium increases stable.

Abelson describes in her article how doctors under the new SelectHealth plan agree to share information on outcomes, and choose evidence-based procedures that emphasize quality and affordability rather than just the number of procedures or visits. Employers agree to offer coverage that workers can afford and agree to longer-term contracts to enable hospitals and doctors to work with patients to promote health. And patients agree to take more responsibility for living healthy lifestyles and to use needed preventive benefits, such as colonoscopies or mammograms.

Patients and employers benefit, because SelectHealth Share provides a guaranteed premium increase of only four percent in years two and three of the three-year contract.  “We have not seen anything similar from other providers,” Lana F. Jensen, a Director of Personnel Management for Utah County government told the Times. “This is worth a try.”

The New York Times also quoted Dave Jackson, managing partner for FirstWest Benefit Solutions in Orem, Utah, saying Intermountain’s plan is “the first innovative thing we’ve seen in a long time. Share has got everybody at the table — everybody’s got accountability and got things to do.”

Intermountain knows the importance of providing extraordinary care and superior service at an affordable cost. Many thought leaders – including readers of The New York Times – are following Intermountain’s efforts as a model health system that is indeed helping people live the healthiest lives possible.

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