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frank.stichter@strategichpc.com

Are you and your organization challenged by or resisted to change? Recently I was listening to a sports-talk radio show and they were talking about change in the National Basketball Association to shorten the schedule, and change in the Major League Baseball schedule to shorten the season among other things, etc.  One of the observations by the radio host was that change, or the lack of change is the selfish motivation to make things (keep things) easier. In other words, we are averse to change because of the extra work that might be involved by us to create something better.

A long time ago someone asked me what I did for a living? I thought about that for a moment and how complex and lengthy my response would be so I subsequently responded “what I do is try to get people to do what they don’t want to do.” The other person then asked “what’s that?”  And I said “I try to get people to change.”

Healthcare costs are increasing at such a rapid rate for many reasons and will become unsustainable unless change occurs. Change can come in many forms, whether it’s governmental regulation, reducing pharmacy costs, reference base pricing, direct contracting, etc. Resisting new opportunity because of the perceived work that might be involved is a ridiculous notion – you and your organization want to create positive outcomes. The absence of change results in simply “the same old stuff different day,” and therefore shouldn’t be any complaints about the ever-increasing costs.

When talking to employers – those who have renewals upcoming in the next few months for example, they complain how their claim costs went up this past year, or increases in prescription drug costs, or the increase in specialty drug costs, and other items. While they complain about increasing costs, they seem to be reluctant to create change from what they’ve always done. It doesn’t work any longer for employers to simply switch from one BUCA (Blue Cross, United, CIGNA, Aetna) company to another to try to lower costs. Simply changing the network because of perceived discounts just doesn’t have the long-term impact that some might suggest. While it might reduce the initial price, it does not reduce actual costs.

When looking at new ideas and programs, your organization should look at what change can bring on behalf of your participants through either better benefits or affordability, as well your ability to sustain future costs.

While some companies are not challenged by the financial aspect of health insurance costs, they are rare. They could be flush for a number of reasons such as profitability, the type of arrangement they may be in e.g. an association, or maybe the group just has a terrible plan design that puts all the financial burden on their employees.

If an organization wants to attract and retain talented employees, they need to consider the positive aspects of change and the financial results – maybe not just for the company, but for their employees. Employees have a great deal of angst regarding affordability – either through their monthly contributions from paycheck contributions, or when they actually incur a claim. Their wage increases have not kept up with insurance and medical inflation. Health plans are moving to high deductibles and employees’ ability to afford the out-of-pocket expense is becoming increasingly risky and difficult for them.

While change may seem to be difficult to swallow for a company, selecting the right program, the right vendors, and the right support team that comes with change is extremely important. As with anything, some of these are better than others. That’s why it’s important to be aware of, and knowledgeable of, the Best In Class programs available to you. If your broker or consultant is not aware of these programs – then neither are you. If your broker or consultant continues to simply seek change in the old-fashioned traditional ways i.e. switching from one BUCA to another, (hamster wheel) then you will never be on the innovative edge of change for your organization or for your employees.

Technology brings innovative methods to simplify change in healthcare programs. No longer is it difficult and time consuming to implement many of the programs I’m referring to. Does it take some work?  Yes. But not the type of effort from an employer that it has taken in the past.

Embrace change and everything that that comes along with it. If you’d like to learn more about how your company can change the course of your healthcare plan and related costs, please contact me at frank.stichter@strategichpc.com, and I can tell you more about programs that you may or may not wish to consider.