The long Labor Day week-end is in sight, and summer is quickly becoming a memory. Many of you are getting down to the wire on 2016 benefits decisions. Will 2016 be a year for big change? After all, we are closing in on the effective date for the excise tax on high-cost plans in 2018 … or are we? Some are holding out, as they have with other ACA milestones, in hopes that the Cadillac tax will be repealed. All the while, plan sponsors (and their advisors) remain actively engaged in the quest to find the perfect balance between cost, quality, and member engagement.
Lin Grensing-Pophal wrote a piece that ran this week in Human Resource Executive online titled “Tracking Healthcare Trends,” in which she discussed NBGH survey results and new design strategies employers are implementing in 2016. Yours truly got the last word: “I think these are really exciting times to be in our business … With each passing day, we just get more and more opportunities for different types of strategies. It’s a lot to take in, but I think that there are a lot of great opportunities for us to continue to not only manage costs, but to drive better quality and to maintain or improve the health of the population. Those are all good things.”
I really do believe that! Employer-sponsored plans have become the incubators for so many new innovations:
- New care-delivery models, such as accountable care organizations (ACOs) and other network-based models, that are designed to promote value-based care.
- Countless new gizmos that track activity, measure progress in fitness challenges, monitor medication adherence, or record metrics associated with diabetes or diet.
- Brand-new health plan models, such as Collective Health, that promise to exceed customer expectations for how good a health plan can be.
- Private exchange options, like Mercer Marketplace™, that have secured a foothold in the employer market and continue to grow in popularity.
- Consumer engagement models, such as Accolade, that boast member satisfaction and net promoter scores never before seen in the industry.
- Digital platforms like Jiff — a new Mercer collaborator — that provide an easy-to-navigate user experience to drive utilization of the right health care services, by the right people, at the right time.
If you haven’t yet explored the landscape of new options, take time to press the “reset button” and look at everything the market has to offer before you begin planning for 2017. I promise you will not be disappointed.