Health systems with health plans saw less of financial fallout from COVID-19, PwC says

Health systems that own a health plan were able to cushion the financial blow of the COVID-19 pandemic better than others, according to a report from PwC's Health Research Institute.

The report, released Dec. 16, included survey results from 128 health plan executives, 153 provider executives and 124 pharmaceutical and life sciences executives. Thought leaders in the industry were also interviewed for the report. 

The Health Research Institute found health systems are recovering from challenges related to the pandemic, including the suspension of elective procedures and personal protective equipment costs, at different paces. Health systems that own a health plan, like Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, Albuquerque, N.M.-based Presbyterian Healthcare Services, and Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., are better positioned financially to support clinical operations, the report said.

Ceci Connolly, president and CEO of the Alliance of Community Health Plans, said in an interview with the Health Research Institute that "the pandemic opened the eyes of a lot of providers that make their money through volume. Suddenly they had no volume and no revenue. Providers with value-based arrangements with health plans kept getting a check every month, regardless of volume. They were able to focus immediately on telehealth and other creative ways of caring for patients, because they weren't as worried about volume or reimbursement."

Read the full report here, and a breakdown of the Health Research Institute's six top issues for healthcare leaders here. Additionally, find advice from Howard Kern, president and CEO of Sentara Healthcare in Norfolk, Va., on starting a health system-owned health plan here.

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