Study: More Than Half of Major Employers Are Looking to Transparency to Help Reign in Healthcare Costs
Change Healthcare recently sponsored a study to gauge where major employers are in their strategies to bring healthcare cost transparency to their employees. Study participants included representatives from 30 companies, including 20 members of the Fortune 500. The results of the study will not only help shape our company’s product roadmap, but also provided important insights into employers’ cost transparency and employee engagement priorities – and the measures that matter most to them in determining the success of related efforts.
Not surprisingly, the study showed that employers have an increasingly deep appreciation of the value of helping employees understand healthcare cost and quality information. More than 50% have done at least some formal evaluation of transparency providers with the primary motivation being to assist the growing number of employees enrolled in high-deductible health plans.
When asked about the things that matter most in a transparency solution, more than 80% of employers ranked the ability to provide comparative costs for diagnostic and other medical procedures as most important or “Critical.” The remaining employers consider this functionality “Important.”
Employers’ other top priorities include:
Access to quality information. Approximately 70% of employers consider this “Critical,” with the remaining 30% ranking it as “Important.” One study participant noted, “It’s essential for employees to understand that they are not taking a risk when they comparison shop for healthcare. If they know they can save money and get a better outcome, it should be a no brainer!”
Availability of pharmacy costs. Of the more than 90% of employers who ranked access to pharmacy costs as “Critical” or “Important,” many suggested that, in many ways, it is the simplest way for employees to understand the value of shopping for healthcare, as pharmacy services allow for apples-to-apples comparisons.
Proactive alerts that identify opportunities to save on recurring medical and pharmacy services. More than 80% of employers support this kind of proactive outreach. Interestingly, some employers who said they had only some interest in proactive outreach changed their minds when they learned that 60% of employees act on proactive alerts and, afterwards, are four times more likely to comparison shop for care and 70% more likely to choose a higher quality provider. This reaffirms that employers are not only interested in immediate savings, but also value-based decision making over the long term.
At Change Healthcare, we believe that the most effective cost transparency and consumer engagement solutions should provide all of these capabilities – and more. It’s why we’ve built our Engagement Platform the way we have. It’s why we remain a leader in the consumer engagement space.
Want to see how Change Healthcare can help your business reign in its healthcare costs? Engage with us today.
Targeted Messaging to Complement Existing Efforts Around Health and Wellness
I’m excited to share that Change Healthcare recently launched its newest solution for health plans and self-insured employers looking to improve population health and reduce healthcare spending via consumer engagement. Our Targeted Engagement Alerts use proactive, targeted messaging to support efforts around wellness, chronic care management, medication adherence and point-of-care optimization. Architected to complement, not compete with existing wellness and preventive care initiatives, they help plan sponsors:
- Improve the utilization of high-quality providers;
- Improve population health outcomes; and
- Control their healthcare cost growth trends.
For consumers, Targeted Engagement Alerts support:
- Better understanding and utilization of their healthcare benefits;
- Improved health status with higher usage of prevention and wellness services; and
- The selection of high-value providers.
The time for Targeted Engagement Alerts is now. Studies show that well over half of employers – 61% to be exact – consider employees’ health habits the number one challenge in controlling healthcare costs. Interestingly enough, 56% of consumers want help in managing their health status and related risks. With Targeted Engagement Alerts, plan sponsors and consumers alike get what they need. (Plus, for health plans, Targeted Engagement Alerts provide an effective, non-plan design-driven way to improve Medicare Advantage Star ratings, and may qualify as a quality improvement activity under the MLR calculation. The solution also supports accreditation or reaccreditation for URAC and NCQA initiatives for disease management, case management, wellness and health promotion.)
Change Healthcare piloted Targeted Engagement Alerts with Cerner Corporation in 2013 with strong results – and we look forward to implementing the tool with several large health plan and employer clients this summer. Let us show you how they can help your organization achieve its health and wellness goals. Engage with us today.
Employers: The Time is Now. Carpe Diem.
The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans’ most recent survey looks at the impact of the Affordable Care Act on employer health plans. Its findings confirm that, compared with last year, organizations are implementing cost containment measures at a much higher rate and, in many cases, shifting greater financial responsibility to their employees.
According to the survey, nearly one-third of organizations have increased out-of-pocket limits and in-network deductibles in the last year, up from 14% to 32% and 15% to 30%, respectively. Similarly, 19% of organizations have increased participants’ share of prescription drug costs (up from 12% in 2013), and more than one in four are increasing their emphasis on a high-deductible health plan.
Two additional findings from this survey that caught my attention and served as inspiration for this blog post:
- 42% of organizations believe that the Affordable Care Act has improved their employees’ engagement/interest in their healthcare.
- About one-third of organizations believe that their employees’ understanding of the ACA is poor or very poor (23% and 9% respectively).
The good news in this: After years of seeming disinterest and complacency, consumers are finally ready to get involved in their healthcare. The bad news: They lack the information and understanding required to make value-based decisions that are good for their health and their budgets.
Change Healthcare has long advocated for engaged, educated healthcare consumers, because we understand that they are the key to reining in costs – for themselves, their plan sponsors and the industry as a whole. Employers: You’ve got your employees’ attention. Are you prepared to seize the moment? We can help. Engage with us today.
 International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, “2014 Employer-Sponsored Health Care Survey,” June 2014
Price Transparency: A $100 Billion Opportunity
Last month, the West Health Policy Institute* released “Healthcare Price Transparency: Policy Approaches and Estimated Impacts on Spending,” a report making three specific policy recommendations to our nation’s and industry’s leaders:
All states should develop all-payer health claims databases (APCDs) to report hospital prices. According to the report, doing so could save as much as $55 billion by making employers more aware of price differences and by increasing pressure on high-priced hospitals to reduce or justify their prices.
Electronic health record systems should provide prices to physicians ordering diagnostic tests. Because research shows that physicians are often unaware of the costs of tests and procedures they order, West Health says providing this information to physicians could produce up to $25 billion in savings over 10 years.
All private health plans should be required to provide personalized out-of-pocket expense information to enrollees. While many plans already provide tools that offer insights into this important information, few members use them. If all plans offered these tools and incented people to use them, the savings could total $15 billion to $20 billion over 10 years, West Health researchers say.
If you’re like me, you did some math as you considered this report’s recommendations and you realized that price transparency in healthcare represents a roughly $100 billion opportunity. At Change Healthcare, we understand that it also represents a chance to improve population health and encourage employee/member satisfaction – when coupled with a strategy to engage and educate consumers to make better buying decisions.
Yes, improved access to healthcare pricing information is a strong step in the right direction, but it’s only half the battle. Consumers also need to be engaged in a proactive and personalized way to drive long-term behavior change and measurable results. And they need to be educated on the basic terminology of healthcare, and why quality and cost matter when making medical, dental, vision and pharmacy purchasing decisions. This is what our clients rely on us for – and we’re delivering real ROI.
Want to learn more? Engage with us today.
*West Health is an investor in Change Healthcare