Putting Health Back Into Health Care

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Putting Health Back Into Health Care 

While escalating health care costs continue to be a concern for employees and employers, some employers are looking beyond plan cost shifting (increased deductibles, coinsurance, out-of-pocket maximums, point-of-service copays and employee contribution for coverage) and are beginning to invest more in the proactive health and welfare of their employees and dependent members.

Employers continue to be concerned about the cost of health care benefits. They realize that in order to put “health” into health insurance, fundamentally improve health care encounter outcomes and effectively lower costs, they need to begin targeting the root of the issue by directly influencing the interactions between providers and patients.  This is a step beyond the current practice of controlling the unit cost and unit quantity. 

WPS Health Insurance (WPS) is working with an increasing number of companies that are moving beyond current year cost sharing and passive condition management programs to proactive pre-condition management and driving behavior change by targeting the health and health risk needs of their diverse workforce, providers and eliminating barriers to effective understanding, prevention and treatment.

Surveys indicate most employers are not confident that employees have the appropriate skills and knowledge to make educated health care decisions. To address this issue, WPS has implemented new resources and programs to help employees better manage their health, including health risk appraisals and online decision support tools. 

These tools are designed to help employees make better decisions when they are healthy consumers, and at the same time, provide them with the advocacy and support they need when they are less healthy patients in a fragmented and complex healthcare system.

An increasing number of companies are also taking a closer look at the health risks and needs of their employee/dependent member population and offering condition management and wellness programs designed to drive participation, trigger positive changes in consumer behavior and provide patients with additional support and guidance.

Employers are applying a risk management mindset to the asset that is employee health. By obtaining insight into the health risks and chronic conditions of at-risk populations in their workforce, employers can pinpoint portions of the employee and dependent population that are the most costly, then make changes to their plan design that will drive employees to make better, more consistent decisions about their health. These types of programs not only influence healthy employee behaviors through integrated care management, but they provide companies with significant opportunities for short- and long-term cost savings. 

As an ongoing process, the recommendation is that groups take more aggressive multiyear steps to help employees improve their health by increasing education efforts, implementing disease management and wellness programs and using data analysis to improve health and productivity while holding participants accountable for their behaviors and involvement in plan purchasing. With these steps, employers can start putting the “health” back into health care.

Written by David Grunke, CHC, Manager Strategic Accounts, WPS Health Insurance
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