Verma to health insurers: Listen to patients' demands, or go extinct

CMS Administrator Seema Verma warned insurers at an industry conference that if they don't listen to patients' demands for a more transparent and affordable system, they face extinction.

Ms. Verma made the comments to attendees at America's Health Insurance Plans' 2019 National Conference on Medicare in Washington, D.C., Sept. 24. She spoke about Americans' frustration with the healthcare system, particularly health insurers' role in it.

"They are concerned with the care they need being denied and they worry about getting surprise bills. They're tired of the hassles and the complexity that gets between them and their doctor. Today insurance companies have some of the lowest satisfaction rates among Americans," she said.

She added that physicians' frustration is also something insurers can't ignore. She noted the near endorsement of "Medicare for All" by the American Medical Association this summer as "the canary in the coal mine, warning of very real danger to the health insurance industry."

"History tells us that when businesses ignore the signs — when they don't innovate, adapt, evolve and listen — they go extinct," Ms. Verma said. "It happened to record stores; it happened travel agencies; it happened to video stores. But it doesn't have to happen to you. I believe in your ability to be innovative and creative and to work with us to improve America's healthcare … to go down a different path."

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