Changing the Conversation: Health vs. Healthcare

The statistics are foreboding: since 1980, growth in healthcare spending has outpaced all other consumer spending by a factor of nearly three, while increasing from 5% to 18% of GDP. Looking just 3 years ahead, this figure is projected to reach at least 22%.  Despite so much of the national conversation focused on managing “healthcare”, employers remain confronted with:

  • Healthcare renewal costs that are unsustainable
  • Plan design changes that have reduced benefits
  • Employee dissatisfaction with reduced benefits and increased costs

To understand why a shift in the national conversation from healthcare to health is necessary, one needs only to consider the implications of the data provided by our medical professionals:

  • Nearly 75% of Americans are overweight, and 33%  qualify as obese
  • Cardiovascular disease and stroke are now the leading cause of death
  • 17.5 million Americans will be afflicted with diabetes, and 25.1 million with cardiovascular disease
  • 1 in 3 children born after 2000 will develop diabetes by age 50
  • 29% of adults with high blood pressure are undiagnosed
  • 70% of all claim costs are the direct results of behavior
  • 74% of all claims are confined to four chronic conditions: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity

For those business owners seeking real solutions to rising healthcare costs, we propose the need to change the conversation on how to improve the health of those who are employed.

Understanding that the cost of improving health is far lower than the healthcare costs associated with combating increased disease, companies must learn how to build a culture of health improvement and engage employees and families in order to achieve sustainability in healthcare costs. To do so, employers can take a “measures-based approach” to identify risk within the employee population, develop strategies to facilitate positive change among high risk individuals, and strategies to keep the healthy population healthy.

By learning and adopting new strategies that emphasize and reward employees and their families to embrace healthy lifestyle choices, employers can help employees and their families become far more efficient healthcare consumers, and move towards a zero trend health plan (for our next discussion).

Thomson Reuters Health Care Spending Index: Insurance Costs Climb 4.0% for Q3 2011 

Is Obesity an Infectious Disease?

Changing the Conversation: Health vs. Healthcare, is an editorial series designed to advance the health improvement model as a business strategy, supported by medical research, academic and corporate case studies. Scott Bradley is a Sr. Vice President with Cook, Hall & Hyde, Inc., a health and welfare advocate supporting middle market employers to design, implement and manage employee health improvement and insurance programs.     

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New Jersey Prepares to Launch Accountable Care Organization

New Jersey is one of the first states to experiment with accountable care organizations, or ACOs, a relatively new health care model that is similar to the patient-centered medical home, or PCMH, and that links primary care and subspecialist practices with area hospitals to create an integrated delivery system. Providers are accountable for costs and the quality of care delivered, and bonuses and penalties are tied to overall spending and quality measures. Learn more

Swine Flu Employee Education

Below are links to a variety of swine flu educational resources that will help you stay on top of the situation. They include:

The CDC has offered recommendations for everyday actions people can take to protect themselves from this new strain of flu.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
    • Influenza is thought to spread mainly person-to-person through coughing or sneezing of infected people.
    • If you get sick, the CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Hewitt Data Reveals Little Change in U.S. Health Care Cost Increases for 2009

This Hewitt report indicates that the average health plan increases across the U.S will average between 6%-7% for 2009 with several exceptions for metropolitan areas that experienced increases as high 11%.  

 

Jim Winkler, North American practice leader of Hewitt’s Health Management Consulting business states “The “Employers continue to diligently manage health care costs through a combination of approaches, including continued cost shifting, tougher negotiations with health plans, and expanded health and wellness programs with incentives to encourage behavior change.

 

Read more

Are you Complying with HIPAA’s Final Wellness Regulations?

The US Dept of Labor has developed a checklist to determine whether a health promotion or disease prevention program is required to comply with the DOL’s final wellness program regulations, and, if so, whether the program is in compliance with the regulations.    

Click here for the Wellness Program Checklist

Click here for DOL’s HIPAA Compliance Guide

Aetna Takes the Lead on Personal Health Records

Aetna deserves praise for being out in front with the first-ever personalized search engine that mines information from Aetna’s vast data resources to deliver meaningful, personalized health and health benefits information to Aetna members.  Aetna partnered with Healthline Networks to develop Aetna SmartSource.  Aetna SmartSource is available online and can be accessed through Aetna Navigator®, Aetna’s member self-service website, the CareEngine-powered Personal Health Record (PHR), and Simple Steps To A Healthier Life®, Aetna’s online wellness program. Aetna will pilot Aetna SmartSource with several large, pre-selected customers throughout 2008.

Click here for more on SmartSource.

A CEO and CFO Summit “Embracing Wellness as a Business Strategy”

On April 17, 2008 Kevin Seelman, VP of Matria Healthcare and Scott Bradley, VP of Cook, Hall & Hyde, Inc will discuss, principals and best practices for a successful employee based health management program, ROI and your wellness program, HIPAA Regs and how to develop meaningful wellness incentives and relative health plan benchmarking.  Don’t miss this informative seminar.

For more information click here

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