After decades of talk about the rising cost of health care, Massachusetts employers finally have the opportunity to do something about it.
That’s why Associated Industries of Massachusetts is announcing today a multi-year educational initiative to help employers control the cost and quality of the health insurance they provide to their employees.
The Health Cost Solution will offer briefings, seminars, training, Webinars, videos, online information and other resources to employers seeking to slow the soaring cost of health care that has for years depressed business growth across the commonwealth.
The initiative will draw heavily upon the knowledge AIM has developed in helping Massachusetts employers reshape the health care market in a manner that makes once unthinkable cost reduction goals achievable.
“It’s a unique moment in history. Breathtaking changes in the health-care market are allowing employers to re-think the way they purchase and manage health insurance,” said Sandra L. Reynolds, Executive Vice President of the AIM Employer’s Resource Group and director of The Health Cost Solution.
“But solving the health-cost crisis will require employers to develop a long-term plan and to mount the same sort of sustained effort they put into Kaizen or Six Sigma. Companies must become sophisticated purchasers of health insurance and employees must become informed consumers of health care.”
Reynolds says that the complex debate over health care costs has produced reams of information, but little useful knowledge for employers – until now.
The Health Cost Solution will begin in June with six complimentary executive forums featuring conversations with employers who have compelling stories to share about trying to cure the health cost crisis. Senior executives from health insurance companies and health-care providers will also share innovative strategies that employers can use to manage their health benefits. Participants will leave the sessions with concrete steps they can use right away to limit health premium increases.
Also on the agenda is a two-part summer Webinar series on cost-saving strategies for companies facing fall open enrollment period of health insurance coverage.
The most unique piece of The Health Cost Solution will be a seven-part certificate series developed to help employers and their key managers create sustainable savings and quality in their health benefits. The series is based on our belief that managing health insurance costs is a long-term and complex challenge that includes everything from plan design to dealing with brokers to employee education. It’s not something you master in a quick seminar. The first-of-its kind series will begin throughout the commonwealth this fall.
Massachusetts employers have a unique role to play as the largest purchasers of health insurance benefits. Almost 78 percent of insured Massachusetts residents receive their health insurance coverage through an employer.
A staggering 97 percent of AIM member employers last year identified health care costs as the one issue that keeps them awake at night. Health insurance premiums in Massachusetts have increased 50 percent since 2003, bringing the average cost paid by employers and workers to insure a single Massachusetts family through a health maintenance organization to $15,864 a year.
But the Massachusetts health care market is already moving aggressively to restructure itself in ways that will benefit engaged employers. Health providers, insurance companies and employers are working together to change the way consumers pay for medical care, introducing innovative products such as tiered and limited health plans that reward consumers for receiving high-quality care in reasonably priced settings, and implementing “global payments” that reward doctors for good outcomes instead of the number of procedures they order.
The results so far are encouraging. The average health insurance premium increase approved the state’s Division of Insurance in the small group market for April 2012 is 1.8 percent, down from 16.3 percent just two years ago. Overall, contracts negotiated by health insurers with providers in 2011 gave hospitals and doctors groups average fee increases of 2 to 3 percent, roughly half those given in 2010 and less than in any year since 2005.
Please join us in this unique endeavor to change the course of one of the most troublesome issues facing employers in 2012. How can you participate?
- Take a brief survey to help us develop a picture of the strategies that Massachusetts employers are currently using to manage health costs.
- If you are a CEO, COO, CFO, business owner or HR executive, attend one of the June forums for a practical overview of what you can do to control costs.
- Have members of your staff attend the Health Cost Management Certificate series in September and take the opportunity to have experts review your company’s long-term cost-management plan.
- Contact Sandy Reynolds (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Kristen Lepore, Vice President of Government Affairs (email@example.com) with your ideas and suggestions.
- Visit www.aimnet.org/thesolution for updated information on the educational initiative.