Last updated on July 24th, 2019 at 11:59 am
BizTimes: What are the challenges facing the health care industry today?
Terry Rowinski: The problem is exasperatingly familiar: Wisconsin businesses are struggling with rising health costs that continue to outpace inflation. Employees and their families must often choose between going into debt from out-of-pocket medical costs or forgoing needed care. Overall health suffers, costs go up, no one is happy. The vicious cycle continues.
BT: The health care system in the U.S. is broken—but whose job is it to fix it?
TR: Ideally, our elected officials would, but so far that hasn’t happened. Back in the summer of 2016, our strategic leadership team sat down to consider potential scenarios for what might happen in health care over the next three to five years. We had plenty of grand ideas—a dual-payer system, cross-state monopolies, retailization—but none of us predicted the actual outcome: that not much has truly changed. Year-on-year health care costs keep rising (albeit at a more tepid pace), cost-shifting from employer to employee continues, consumer out-of-pocket medical debt keeps rising and the circle continues.
BT: What are the points of interest surrounding the future of health care?
TR: As we sit with our customers (Wisconsin-based employers), a recurring set of themes are becoming apparent:
Concern for 2020+ downturn on the economic front and what it means to their profitability achieved under the now great expansion,
How to attract and retain great people even in a pullback; and
How to make a meaningful impact on their top line costs of running the company with health care eating so much of the budget.
BT: And so we ask the question again: who is responsible for fixing health care?
TR: If not the government, then surely the insurance companies, the health care providers, or the health care technology startups, right? While I feel strongly that everyone has a part to play, I’m going to suggest that it’s time for employers (and employees) to take the wheel in order to reduce health care costs within their organization. The time has passed for handing off full responsibility to your broker or relying on a software product that promises to work magic.
BT: What tips do you have for employers?
TR: In that vein, our advice to our clients is multifold:
- Start (or continue) to treat health care and the expense associated with it as a fiduciary duty of your firm to its employees and their families, your ownership, and your community. Your job isn’t over after open enrollment; this is something to manage all year long.
- Take ownership for working within the community that serves your company to create and implement innovative practices that focus on keeping healthy people well and getting the sick in a much better place. Design a benefits package that supports your employees’ needs, then encourage them to use it, especially for wellness and preventive maintenance care.
- Don’t ever settle for a provider or network cost summary that states that their discounts are the best. Do your due diligence, focusing on the end-cost to you as an employer and to your employees and their families.
- Keep Wisconsin money in Wisconsin. While it may be easy to purchase a national solution claiming to fix all of your company’s health care issues in one sitting, it truly doesn’t work that way. The state is full of brilliant and cost-effective solutions that when coupled together can bring the cost of health care down, access to high-quality providers up, and improve the long-term health and wellness of the community.
BT: Who can consumers turn for assistance?
TR: Our team is proud to serve numerous employers within the state, represent quality providers in our comprehensive state-wide network, support consumers through simplified billing and patient advocacy, and to have been a part of the fabric of our economic boom here for the past 12+ years.
I’d love to continue this conversation with you—please reach out anytime on my LinkedIn page: www.linkedin.com/in/terryrowinski/
735 North Water Street, Suite 333 • Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 299-5015 • firstname.lastname@example.org • www.hps.md