Hold the line on health benefit costs

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David Kwasny

11900 W. Lake Park Drive
Employers continue to incur rising costs of providing health insurance benefits to employees. Health care costs per employee for self-insured employers in Wisconsin exceed the national average of $7,089 by more than $2,000. As a result, many of Wisconsin’s self-insured employers have reduced or dropped benefits, hoping reforms will transfer responsibility for health insurance to individuals or the government. David Kwasny, president of Milwaukee-based Restat, a national pharmacy benefit management firm, outlines some important tools employers can use to minimize the costs of their health benefits.
“An ounce of prevention: It may be hard to quantify at first, but prevention, screening and wellness programs really can dramatically decrease costs and improve value for you and your employees. Wellness programs that target long-term health issues such as hypertension or obesity, and smoking cessation programs can greatly reduce health care costs. Ongoing disease management also helps prevent disease recurrences and setbacks.
“You get what you measure: Work with your health care benefit managers to get regional and national benchmark information on the cost and quality attributes of the average health care benefit. Compare your costs and quality outcomes to those benchmarks and track progress to your goals. Hold your health care benefit partners accountable to a result.
“Hire an expert: Make sure that the partners you select to manage your health care benefit have the experience, teams and facilities to achieve excellent results. Verify that their interests are aligned with your priorities.
“Heighten employee awareness: Make sure your health care partners provide tools to help your employees make wise health care decisions.
“Your health care partners are also responsible for doing what they can do to control health care costs. All companies involved in providing health care products and services bear a responsibility for finding ways to make health care an affordable benefit for self-insured employers and their employees.”

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