a recap of last week’s news that caught my interest.
aon hewitt has released results from a survey of over 1,000 employers in the U.S. about their concerns, tactics and long-term strategic objectives when it comes to health care cost containment. one of the biggest shifts noted is the one toward more penalties and required participation.
“The Aon Hewitt survey also showed that 22 percent of employers will have programs in place by the end of 2011 to reward participants for achieving specific health outcomes, and 10 percent will have similar programs to penalize participants for exhibiting unhealthy behavior. However, by 2016, 64 percent of organizations said they will add programs that reward for good health, while 46 percent said they will add programs that penalize for unhealthy outcomes.”
i’ve written about this before—high-deductible health plans are expected to rise in popularity (meaning: prevalence). it’s likely that a majority of large employers will offer only these types of plans in the years ahead. these same employers will need to invest in communication to ensure that employees see not only the lowered premium, but the need to save for the higher deductible. otherwise, they’ll find employees moving back to the plan with known costs, if that’s an option, or possibly avoiding care altogether.
“Last year, Tina Holwin Hodges’ healthy family switched to a high-deductible health insurance plan and were able to save $100 a month on their monthly premiums, which seemed like a bargain.
“Then her daughter Cailee spent three days in the hospital with a viral infection, her daughter Heather went in for a cardiac workup, her husband had hand surgery after being out of work for a year, and she injured her back and couldn’t work for three months. Hodges found that her family plan with a $2,400 deductible and a $11,900 maximum on out-of-pocket spending was too much of a burden. Rather than paying a $20 co-pay per visit to the doctor, her family paid 20% of each visit until they reached their deductible.
“This year, Hodges, who works as a nurse at a Chicago hospital, and her family have opted into a traditional, low-deductible plan.”
medical tourism used to require a passport. now new companies offer domestic alternatives.
“Launched in 2007, [BridgeHealth] the 20-employee company, based in Greenwood Village, Colorado, negotiates discounted rates with hospitals and extends those rates to businesses, which in turn encourage their employees to travel around the U.S. for treatment. BridgeHealth started as an international medical tourism company but turned to the domestic market in 2010. ‘The feedback we were getting from employers was, ‘I’m not sure I want to send my employees on an airplane for 10 hours. But two hours, that’s OK,’ ’ says CEO Vic Lazzaro, a former UnitedHealthcare executive.”
4. keas introduces the power of play in a new online health and wellness social game that delivers unprecedented employee health engagement rates
keas is the brainchild of former head of google health, adam bosworth. he launched keas in 2009, and since then it’s shifted from being a consumer product company to one targeted at employers and health care product companies. keas has been piloting its workplace wellness solution, and in this press release shares its design and some initial results. you can sign up for a free trial on the keas website.
“The Keas online social game utilizes game mechanics, social networking, rewards and recognition, and team-based support to engage employees and inspire them to adopt healthier habits. Individuals set their personal health goals, select weekly, actionable ‘To Do’s’ related to their health goals and form teams of six to engage in numerous fun activities that will improve their health and earn them points leading to rewards, status and recognition. The real-time newsfeed where participants report their activities and accomplishments to their team members and their entire workplace community is a key factor in motivating employees to play their way to health.”
read more about keas and another provider, redbrick health.
to borrow from the future well’s “this is health” series, this is health. constructing buildings with consideration for what can make us healthier and more active is a vital part of any solution. this bronx apartment was built using the “active design guidelines” resource new york made available in 2010 to help architects and urban planners create spaces that promote physical activity. there are great ideas in here for employers too.
“Known as the Melody, the building, at 853 Macy Place, has a sunny backyard with brightly colored exercise equipment for adults and climbing equipment for children. Its first-floor gym has four tall windows to let in the sunlight.
“But the Melody’s most notable features are its two flights of stairs, which have lime-green railings, small silhouettes of dancing women and jazz playing through speakers.
“Les Bluestone, a partner of Blue Sea Development, said it was important to make the stairs inviting, to encourage residents to skip the elevator. ‘It’s about making the choices obvious and simple, so you don’t have to think about them,’ he said.”