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CFOs Emerge as Champions of Healthcare Benefits

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, February 15, 2012

Let's say you're a health plan executive looking down the road at the future of your company in the age of healthcare reform. You realize that in a couple of years, many of your employer clients could walk away and join a state health insurance exchange with their employees. What do you do to hold onto your clients?

Take off your vendor hat, put on your employer hat—you're a company with employees, after all—and start asking yourself the same questions you ask any of your vendors: What are we getting for this investment? What's the value?

Then have your CFO reach out to your client's CFO for a conversation about healthcare value, why a healthier work force is important to their business, and what your health plan is going to do to drive that value for their employees.

CFO conversations are important because they speak the new language of healthcare sales, which is becoming less focused on the mechanics of disease management and copayments and more focused on how an investment in healthcare relates to worker productivity. In the new healthcare paradigm, employers want to know what's in it for them. Does their investment actually improve employee health?

Health plans don't need to be shy about this approach. "CFOs are ready to have this conversation with the health plans," says Andy Hunzeker, the CFO of Lincoln (NE) Industries. "I see the healthcare of our employees as a competitive advantage for our company, so I'm ready to talk." Focusing on the ROI of healthcare has already helped his company save about $3 million annually in healthcare costs, he says.

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