· UnitedHealth Group to promote Bridges to Excellence™, an employer-sponsored coalition pioneering an innovative program that recognizes and rewards quality physician-delivered medical care
· Over 20 major employers already considering this employer-paid program that promotes and rewards outstanding medical care

MINNEAPOLIS - UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) today announced it has entered into an agreement with Bridges to Excellence™ to implement its program that recognizes and rewards quality physician care. Bridges to Excellence is an initiative led by an employer coalition of eight large national companies. The model uses the National Committee for Quality Assurance's (NCQA) widely accepted evidence-based measures of quality and its associated administrative services to evaluate the consistency of clinical care against best practice standards.

This agreement, the first of its kind between Bridges to Excellence and a health care company, will augment UnitedHealth Group's leading portfolio of initiatives that focus on improving health care outcomes. UnitedHealth Group will encourage and support physicians to apply for recognition by NCQA, and as a result, become eligible for financial rewards that accompany that recognition. As part of the initiative, all UnitedHealth Group enrollees will have convenient access to the names of the physicians who have achieved recognition for the quality of care that they provide in the specific areas addressed.

"Several organizations have recently put toes in the water regarding evaluating medical care at the physician level," said NCQA President Margaret E. O'Kane. "UnitedHealth Group has taken a big leap, and as a result, those they serve should see some real benefits. We know from our experience working with physicians that promoting evidence-based care results in better outcomes. It's a simple model and we know that it works."

Currently, the Bridges to Excellence program uses the NCQA recognition process to evaluate and reward physician's clinical actions in three areas of particular importance to Americans and their employers: high quality cardiovascular care; high quality diabetes care; and the reduction of medical errors. The NCQA develops its widely accepted evidence-based standards by working with nationally recognized partners such as the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA), as well as with physician experts.

"We are excited by this expansion of our collaboration with customers and physicians to enhance health care outcomes," said Vince Kerr, M.D., president of Care Solutions at UnitedHealth Group. "Good physicians deserve to be recognized for their efforts and patients deserve to know the physicians who are providing care consistent with the best scientific evidence. Bridges to Excellence, combined with the UnitedHealth Premium program, enhances our ability to ensure that we can help organize health services that result in the right care for the right person at the right time."

An important component of the Bridges to Excellence program is the financial rewards that accompany recognition of quality. Participating employers contribute to a pool that is subsequently made available to eligible physicians meeting the NCQA recognition criteria.

"It is our belief that the improved quality of care that results from performance measurement and feedback to physicians, as well as more informed decisions by consumers, will ultimately result in cost savings for the purchasers of care," said Dale Whitney, Corporate Health Care Manager at UPS and a leader of the Bridges to Excellence effort.

"UnitedHealth Group has been supporting physicians with evidence-based data sharing and performance feedback for years, and the Bridges to Excellence model is a natural fit for the company and the constituencies it serves," said Dr. Kerr. "This agreement enables UnitedHealth Group to continue to advance meaningful initiatives in this important field."

About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (www.unitedhealthgroup.com) is a diversified Fortune 100 company headquartered in Minneapolis, Minn., that provides a broad spectrum of resources and services to help people achieve improved health and well being through all stages of life. UnitedHealth Group offers products and services through six operating businesses: UnitedHealthcare, Ovations, AmeriChoice, Uniprise, Specialized Care Services and Ingenix. Through its family of businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves more than 55 million individuals nationwide.

About Bridges to Excellence
The Bridges to Excellence coalition is a not-for-profit organization created to encourage diverse significant leaps in the quality of care by recognizing and rewarding health care providers who demonstrate that they deliver safe, timely, effective, efficient and patient-centered care. Bridges to Excellence participants include large employers, health plans, the National Committee for Quality Assurance, MEDSTAT and WebMD Health, among others. The organizations are united in their shared goal of improving health care quality through measurement, reporting, rewards and education.


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