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Mercer

When employers are asked how they plan to control health benefit cost over the long term, they talk about improving employee health. This focus on employee health is one factor fueling growth in worksite clinics. Last year, Mercer’s National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans found that 29% of employers with 5,000 or more employees provided an onsite or near-site clinic offering primary care services, up from 24% in the prior year. Mercer followed up with these employers in a new, targeted survey on worksite clinics. Of the 134 respondents, 72% of those whose clinics provide general medical services said that managing employee health risk and chronic conditions is an important objective for the clinic.

 

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This week, all eyes are on the presidential hopefuls as the primary election season kicks into high gear. With health care on the docket as one of the key domestic policy issues of this election, it’s important for voters to know where each candidate stands, relative to the ACA and Medicare.

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Consumer-directed health plans were created based on the premise that people need to have “skin in the game” to be smart consumers and that we spend our own money more carefully than we spend someone else’s money. That is all true — provided you know what you need to buy and have a way to shop for it. But buying health care is not as easy as shopping for a new dishwasher, a flat-screen TV, or an automobile.

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Your new employee is 26 years old. He’s rarely sick -- maybe some occasional weekend-warrior soreness. His biggest health expense is his refrigerator full of grape Mountain Dew Kickstarts.

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Faced with the prospect of an already-fragmented health care system strained further as more Americans gain health insurance in the public exchanges and through employer plans, employers are turning to onsite clinics as a critical component of their health care strategy. Worksite health services are a way for employers to directly influence health care delivery and provide a convenient and quality product to their employees — enhancing the benefit package while improving productivity.

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This has been a busy week for healthcare in DC -- and the week’s not over yet! On the heels of the leaked Republican reconciliation bill language last Friday (that is already being described as out of date), the governors arrived over the weekend for a National Governors Association meeting that included dinner at the White House on Sunday. While the President tweeted that they “might” talk about healthcare, you can be sure the future of the Medicaid program and, more specifically, Medicaid funding, was at the top of the governors’ list of topics. Certainly, the 31 states that expanded Medicaid fear the funding implications of a block-grant program.

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Our sister company, Oliver Wyman, recently released a white paper on the “New Front Door to Health Care” -- namely, telemedicine and retail clinics. We shared their latest survey data on consumer perceptions and use of these newer access points for health care. While employers have incorporated telemedicine and retail clinics into their health benefit offerings and plan designs, it is important to think about how these access points will evolve as the health care delivery system continues to transform itself.

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If trends around childhood obesity stay on their current course, for the first time in US history we may see life expectancy start to fall. There are some scary statistics on the topic:

 

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A scan of news headlines from the past couple of months netted articles discussing genetic links to anxiety, glaucoma, weight gain, intelligence, athletics, cancer, and smoking. It’s not unimaginable that genetics could play a role in managing every aspect of our health. The trick will be figuring out how to counterbalance genetic predisposition with behavioral changes and clinical support.

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In Mercer’s most recent survey of employer-sponsored health plans, we saw PPO deductibles increase and more employers move to consumer-directed plans, which typically have higher deductibles than traditional PPO plans. For many, escalating upfront deductibles are a real financial burden. What are employers doing to soften the blow? According to our survey, 18% of employers are offering a telemedicine option for employees, up from 11% in 2013. The largest employers are moving fastest — 34% of those with 20,000 or more employees offered telemedicine services in 2014, nearly double the number offering it in 2013.

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This post is part of our “Driving Transformation” series, in which Mercer consultants share key take-aways for employers from the 2016 Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit, a recent conference hosted by Mercer’s sibling firm, management consultant Oliver Wyman.  

 

The rise of the consumer has already caused a seismic shift in the strategic direction for most hospitals and health systems. These providers recognize the imperative to find new and different ways to demonstrate value across the care delivery continuum. This means focusing attention on what consumers of most products and services look for: cost, quality and an engaging and convenient experience. Integrated clinical and commercial strategies must be developed to successfully address each of these elements.  With increased focus on improving population health and patient satisfaction, re-thinking how multi-generational consumers access healthcare providers will be critical to future success. There will be various patient-centric “front doors” to healthcare, including retail health, telemedicine, onsite clinics, digital health, care navigation and a re-invented doctor’s office experience.

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In late May, Martin Senn, the former CEO of Zurich Insurance Group, took his own life just months after leaving the company. Only three years earlier, the company's former CFO, Pierre Wauthier, also committed suicide, and not long after that, so did Swisscom CEO Carsten Schloter.

 

 

 

 

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