Kaiser Highlights Recent Employee Health Care Developments

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Employee Health Care

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Several newspapers recently published articles about employers and worker health care. Summaries appear below.

  • Quality:Five Charlotte, N.C., companies will launch a pay-for-performanceprogram that will provide financial incentives to physicians who followchecklists from the National Committee for Quality Assurance for specific routine treatments, such as heart disease and diabetes, the AP/Charleston Post and Courierreports. The program is intended to reduce health care costs andimprove care for employees, as well as others in the community. Theparticipating companies are Belk, Duke Energy, IBM, Presbyterian Healthcare and Wachovia.Average financial rewards are expected to be about $80 per diabetespatient and $120 per heart disease patient, with annual incentivesranging from several thousand dollars to more than $50,000. To qualifyfor the incentives, physicians must be recognized by NCQA. Paymentswill begin in January 2008(AP/Charleston Post and Courier, 8/6).
  • Premiums: The Texas Association of Health Underwriterson Tuesday called for a change in a state insurance law that wouldrequire employers to pay 100% of their workers' employer-sponsoredhealth plan premiums, the Dallas Morning News reports. According to the Morning News,the association says that if premiums were paid in full foremployer-sponsored plans, all workers would sign up for coverage, whichwould reduce premiums by 7% to 10%. However, local businesses say themove would "put unneeded financial pressure on employers and ultimatelyreduce workers' salaries," according to the Morning News (Roberson, Dallas Morning News, 8/7).
  • Wellness:Employers increasingly are "spending millions of dollars to findinnovative ways to get their workers to improve their health" and toreduce health costs, the Indianapolis Star reports. According to Ron Goetzel, director of the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies at the Cornell University Institute for Policy Research,an effective wellness program can cost employers from $100 to $300 peremployee, but many employers can average a three-to-one return on sucha program. "There is a mountain of evidence out there that theseprograms do save money," Goetzel said. The Star reportsthat insurers also are "under pressure to provide customers with waysto reduce costs." Gary Claxton, a vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation and director of the foundation's Health Care Marketplace Project,noted that about 80% of each premium dollar is used for health care,while the remainder is used for administration and profit. He addedthat by developing innovative wellness programs, insurers can sellthemselves to customers and demonstrate that some administrative costsare being used to improve people's health (Lee, Indianapolis Star, 8/5).

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Reprinted with permission fromkaisernetwork.org.You can view the entire KaiserDaily Health Policy Report, search the archives, andsign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published forkaisernetwork.org,a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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