Employers role in the health care value equation

As a consumer, when you hear the word “value,” what does it mean to you? Do you think of what you can get at the local dollar store? Does it mean the best quality for the best price?

But as an employer choosing a health plan for your employees, are you also thinking about value? In 2012, health care spending made up 17 percent of our economy, or $2.8 trillion, and the costs continue to rise. As consumers have more skin in the game with higher cost-sharing, it’s time to help people understand about the importance of value for the care they are receiving.

So, how can employers and employees have a discussion about health care value that ends up with employees understanding value leads to better health, not just cost savings?

One way to do this is through value-based benefit design. Another is through communication and giving employees the tools they need to be active participants in their own health. So what messages will resonate with most health consumers? Good health care value means:

  • Nordstrom service at Target prices.
  • Best quality for the best price.
  • My personal values are respected. I’m treated as a person, not a disease. I’m getting good customer service.
  • I’m getting the right care, when and how I need it. It’s convenient; I don’t have to go back for multiple tests and office visits.

What we don’t want is for people to think that more expensive care, or more intensive care, is always better care (it’s not). Or, that an employer only cares about cost. Healthy employees are productive employees. For both employers and employees, the good health of the employee is the ultimate goal.


Published: November 20, 2014

About Washington Health Alliance

The Washington Health Alliance is a place where stakeholders work collaboratively to transform Washington state’s health care system for the better. The Alliance brings together organizations that share a commitment to drive change in our health care system by offering a forum for critical conversation and aligned efforts by stakeholders: purchasers, providers, health plans, consumers and other health care partners. The Alliance believes strongly in transparency and offers trusted and credible reporting of progress on measures of health care quality and value. The Alliance is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit with more than 185 member organizations. A cornerstone of the Alliance's work is the Community Checkup, a report to the public comparing the performance of medical groups, hospitals and health plans and offering a community-level view on important measures of health care quality (www.wacommunitycheckup.org).

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