Michael Taylor has been a health care professional for 40 years, and he’s never been more excited about trends in the industry than he is today.
Taylor, senior vice president for Aon Hewitt’s Health and Benefits practice, has high hopes for what’s coming in the next few years for consumers and providers of health care services, and for the employers who manage health benefits for their workforces.
“This is without question the most fascinating time in my entire career,” said Taylor, who has worked as both a hospital and clinical administrator and consultant to corporations. “The scale and scope of the changes that are about to happen is unprecedented. But we’ve got to make sure we actually accomplish positive reform this time.”
For its part, Aon Hewitt recently announced it has created a partnership with an employer group, Catalyst for Payment Reform, which is focused on helping employers obtain greater value from their health care providers.
Taylor will be closely involved with the organization’s initiatives, which include coming up with better systems for predicting and controlling the cost of employee health benefits.
“It’s a relatively new organization comprising very large brand-name companies and even some state employers and a state Medicaid program,” Taylor said. “They have come together to try to change the market and find ways to have more providers offering value-based payment plans.”
Value-based health care is a strategy focusing on costs, quality and, most importantly, outcomes. Its goal is to create a healthier workforce through collaboration among plan sponsors, participants and providers.
Suzanne Delbanco, executive director of CPR, believes the political and financial clout of the group’s membership — including such heavyweights as Dow, Safeway, CALPERS and 3M — will make a difference.
CRP was, in fact, founded before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, based on the idea that health services should be tied to performance. After the passage of PPACA, the group felt there was a lack of leadership among large employers able to respond to the act.
Today, CRP feels it “can have a voice in making changes in how we pay for care.”
One of its members is Dow Chemical, whose health plans cover thousands of retirees and their families. Dow has a huge incentive to closely manage its health costs and to demand greater value for its dollars spent, said Steve Morgenstern, Dow’s North America health and insurance team leader.
“With some 70,000 retirees and their families covered by our plans, health insurance is a huge part of our cost structure,” he said.
As a result, Dow has been working hard to improve pricing transparency with providers, and to insist upon certain performance standards from health care professionals.
Being a part of the CRP has helped Dow compare what works and what doesn’t with other major employers. A major Dow approach that has been embraced by CRP is paying for value rather than per unit of health coverage provided.
Morgenstern said a recent CRP study indicated that, prior to CRP’s focus on value vs. unit payments, employers said only about 2 percent to 3 percent of their health care payments were for value rather than per unit. Now, that number has jumped to 11 percent.