It is hard to argue that employers have not done a pretty good job in recent years managing cost. The threat of the excise tax obviously had something to do with that, and keeping health benefit cost growth to about 4% annually has required some effort. We at Mercer think we have helped our clients make some great strides in the fight to manage health care cost and improve quality with initiatives like Mercer Complete Care, a personalized advocacy and clinical care solution, and our new Specialty Pharmacy PBM Carve-out offering. We have also implemented Quality Improvement Collaboratives (QIC) in several metropolitan areas across the country to bring employers together with providers to improve the quality of hospital care.
But that is not enough. There is still so much to be done and we believe employers must be the agent for change – after all, they provide health coverage to over half of Americans! When we look back over the past 10 years, the greatest strides in health benefits were driven by employers.
Our challenge to our clients and to the entire employer community is to focus on what we call the “four vitals” for healthcare transformation:
- Pay for value – Aligning reimbursement with value, not volume.
- Drive to quality – Delivering the right care at the right time, in the right setting, error free.
- Personalize the experience – Leveraging better data and technology to engage employees in the right behaviors, every day.
- Embrace disruption – Injecting change into the system, with internal stakeholders and external partners, to be future-ready.
Sharon Cunninghis, North American Leader of Mercer’s Health business said it best: “Employers are pivotal players in today’s healthcare system, yet their role has remained remarkably passive. In fact, employer-provided coverage translates into a nearly one trillion dollar annual spend. The time has come for employers to work with other key stakeholders to translate this potential leverage into actual market transformation – and we see our point of view as the roadmap.”
And if lower cost trend and better outcomes are not enough of an incentive to take charge and be one of the leaders, remember that a healthy workforce is strongly aligned with increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, higher retention, and better overall engagement – key ingredients of business success.
Time for us all to up our game.
For more on this, check out our article in BRINK News.