Health benefit cost is notoriously hard to control, as a look at the wild fluctuations in cost trend over the past two decades shows. Yet for the past five years, annual cost increases have been in the low-single digits. While this period of low cost growth has been called a mystery, employers have certainly contributed to it with data-driven strategies that embrace consumerism and high-deductible health plans; emphasize the right site of care, from telemedicine to centers of excellence; and leverage innovations in care management and patient engagement.
That’s not to say the battle is won. Health benefit cost is still rising faster than inflation overall, and of course individual employers can still see increases of 10% or higher in a given year. We keep hoping for help in the form of meaningful health care reform to come out of Washington DC and the new administration. On the current short list of employer priorities:
But while we can keep hoping, it’s time to stop waiting. Employers as a group can drive the market; after all, we cover 178 million lives. That’s a lot of leverage if we act collectively. Here are some foundational actions we believe should be taken by employers to make meaningful progress toward the goal of creating a more rational healthcare system that supports employers' strategic objectives:
These steps will go a long way toward achieving an employer-based healthcare system that works for all of us. Let’s lead by example.