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The further we venture into our modern healthcare system, it becomes more apparent that the self-insured employer understands their potential to slash healthcare costs by creating and effectively implementing custom population health management programs. This is not so surprising of a trend, considering that health policy architects designed the Affordable Care Act and quality-based reimbursement initiatives to stem rising healthcare costs through population health management, as we reported in our ebook, “The New Broker.” 

  • 89% of employers with 1,000+ employees are self-insured
  • 66% of employers in the 500-1,000 employee range are self-insured
  • 30% employers with fewer than 500 employees or fewer are self-insured

The buy-in is present, but buy-in without proper implementation does not equate success. The average reported increase in medical plan costs rose 7.9% from 2014 to 2015 alone, with most employers planning for 5%-9% increases for 2016. The costs are rising, yes – but employers are not taking the rising costs lightly any longer. 

Since 2005, employee health insurance costs have risen 135%, while employer shares have risen 62%.

The employer has endured the brunt of these rising costs for far too long, but now savvy employers are undoubtedly primed to reduce healthcare costs through implementing population health management programs similar to ones that are already reducing thousands in healthcare spend. However, we continue to see many employers’ wellness and disease management programs with insufficient ROI. Proper implementation and ROI measurement seems to be the area of needed improvement for these self-insured employers:  

73% of employers offer a wellness plan, but employee participation is around 30%. Only 10% of employers who offer wellness programs measure ROI.

57% of employers, and 76% of large employers offer disease management plans, but participation is low (e.g. 18% of diabetics participate, even though 75% of employers consider it either the most or second-most valuable patient cohort for disease management)

To be fair, self-insured companies don’t always have data-based answers to target current health costs or anticipate future trends. So they blindly invest in programs they hope will improve health outcomes and reduce claims.

87% of employers want to increase their employees’ awareness and effective decision-making on health issues. To that end, 72% of employers offer health programs and services to raise participants’ awareness of their health status and risks. 

But are they investing wisely, and more importantly – how can employers be sure they are investing wisely? For starters, you can download “The New Broker” ebook here, to discover how employers can implement and optimize their programs effectively, but it all starts with leadership. True population health management begins with accountability. It is no wonder, then, that half of employers now report their CEO or CFO are either signifi­cantly or somewhat involved in health strategy, creating more ac­countability for the decisions of the benefits management staff.


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