Private Insurers, Employee Wellness Programs Seek To Control Costs
Modern Healthcare: "Private insurers may be better at controlling healthcare costs than Medicare, according to a Health Affairs study of two Texas cities. The study is a follow-up to a widely read 2009 New Yorker article by Atul Gawande that showed per-capita Medicare spending in McAllen, Texas, was 86% higher than in El Paso. Gawande used data from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care for the article. But that dramatic variation in spending between the two cities evaporated in the private insurance market. ... The authors suggest that private insurers have means to control costs that Medicare does not, including utilization review and disease-management programs" (Vesely, 12/7).
Earlier, related KHN coverage: Texas Town - Famous For High Medicare Costs - Has Cheaper Side (Rau, 12/7).
The Los Angeles Times: Meanwhile, "[a]s health insurance costs rise, employers are scrambling to reduce premiums, especially now that they average $10,073 per employee, according to a survey by benefits-consulting firm Mercer. One plan of attack? Wellness programs, with companies offering employees incentives to participate. The idea sounds simple - just make people healthier and insurance claims will go down. But that's more easily said than done. Human resources managers debate how much they can impose health-related requirements on employees amid concerns of privacy, overreaching and discrimination. Also, there is that pesky return-on-investment question: Does health improve quickly enough to justify the expense, especially if turnover is high?" (Von Bergen, 12/7).