Dr. Bruce Sherman is urging users of private exchange programs and other new health benefits programs to remember why employers have employees.
Controlling benefits spending is important, but keeping productive employees healthy enough to produce at a high level is also important, Sherman said in a recent interview.
Too often, when employers give cash-strapped workers a choice between low-premium plans with high out-of-pocket costs, and high-premium plans with low out-of-pocket costs, the workers choose the low-premium plan, Sherman said.
“Simply because they need to have that money at hand to cover their cost of daily living,” Sherman said.
When employers send workers to a public or private exchange program, without doing anything to track the employees’ health or make sure they are getting adequate access to the right kind of care, “they’re effectively outsourcing their responsibility for managing workers’ health and well-being,” Sherman said. “That may come back to haunt them. The employers have ceded control.”
Sherman is the medical director for population health management at RightOpt, the private exchange program set up by Buck Consultants, a unit of Xerox. He’s also a professor at the Case Western Reserve University medical school, and a consulting medical director at Employers Health Coalition.
In 1999, Employers Health set up one of the early group health coverage purchasing cooperatives. Those cooperatives are forerunner of the modern private exchange system, and also of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public exchange system.