Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street Journal’
The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the increasing healthcare cost burden shouldered by state and local governments. While the private sector has restructured employee contributions and shifted more toward consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs), a vast majority of the public sector has resisted passing the buck – government employees pay on average 15 percent of premiums with some states requiring no contribution. The Manhattan Institute, a well-known organization dedicated to individual choice and responsibility, estimated that governments could save $1,376 per employee by following the private-business model.
Realizing the power of CDHPs, states like Indiana have begun offering options with lower premiums and empowering employees to take on more responsibility for the cost of care. An astonishing 70 percent of employees moved to these plans, and a study by Mercer Consulting estimated that the state’s move saved Indiana’s taxpayers $23 million. Multiply that savings opportunity nationwide – and there are more than 18 million government employees in the U.S. today – and the overall savings potential is astronomical. A trend toward CDHP is likely to continue given the financial pressure the U.S. is under when it comes to health care. This perspective is certainly validated by the fact that 23 states already offer these types of plans, and a growing number of states are now pushing into the 40+ percent cost sharing category per a 2011 study published by the Segal Company.
What’s exciting is that the potential savings of moving to CDHPs at the government and state level can be enhanced once employees are empowered with the right information to understand how to intelligently shop for their healthcare. The example of an employee like TaKeisha Woodson should and can be replicated across every public-sector employee. As the U.S. Postal Service and other state and local government entities join the heated debate over rising healthcare costs, change is certainly on its way …
Young families are having an increasingly difficult time staying on budget in this tough economy, where each unexpected expense can cause an uneasy shuffling of priorities – especially when it comes to healthcare. One recent survey from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that 64 percent of Americans couldn’t handle a $1,000 emergency. To show how the average American is handling such costs, Anna Mathews’ personal finance column in Sunday’s edition of the Wall Street Journal showed us how TaKeisha Woodson, a credit analyst, saved nearly 50% on a prescription simply by taking advantage of change:healthcare’s Ways to Save Alerts™. But there is much more to TaKeisha’s story.
First Horizon National Corporation is a self-insured employer that offers the change:healthcare cost-comparison tool to its employees. TaKeisha is married to a school teacher, has two young children, and just like most growing families, she must juggle the challenges of making smart purchasing decisions with the need for quality care. In addition to the savings referenced in the WSJ, in May of this year her ten-month-old son became sick and was prescribed antibiotics by his pediatrician. TaKeisha arrived at the pharmacy to pick up her son’s prescription and was shocked to see a $100 price tag for a basic antibiotic. Instead of simply accepting the price at the pharmacy, TaKeisha knew she had options. Once she returned home, she logged onto her computer and using the change:healthcare Cost Lookup™ tool, found the same medication at nearly half the cost at another nearby pharmacy. In addition, with the change:healthcare cost comparison tool, TaKeisha will continue to receive proactive e-mail alerts on her routine prescriptions and doctor visits, letting her know how she and her family can save money in the future.
Her story is a testament to the power of actionable cost transparency – and it is just one of many. Through access to pricing information and a proactive outreach strategy that helps consumers take advantage of savings opportunities, TaKeisha is one of thousands of employees who are able to maximize the value from their healthcare benefit.
It definitely makes you wonder how much our healthcare system could save if everyone had access to the same tools as TaKeisha. Stay tuned for more savings stories from patients and employees …