What will it take for employers to continue to offer healthcare benefits? Lansky identified these expectations:
- Premium trend. While a zero premium trend is desirable, Lansky noted that some employers within the PBGH have begun talking about a negative premium trend.
- Durable reduction in the cost shift. They don't want problems with waste within in the healthcare industry solved on the backs of their employees and their companies in the form of higher costs. They are reluctant to shift any more costs to their employees.
- Confidence in health incomes. They want to be confident that payers and providers deliver healthcare services that will improve the performance and quality of life for their employees. They want data to help them evaluate outcomes.
- Reliability. Companies want to be able to assure employees that no matter where they go for healthcare services, the care will be predictable and reliable.
- Competitive marketplace that rewards innovation. They want to see competition based on the ability to improve health, including a redesigned healthcare delivery system where professionals use their skills in the most affordable and efficient way possible.
Keep an eye on Weight Watchers, which is assuming a role in the healthcare industry according to David P. Kirchhoff, the CEO of Weight Watchers International. "We began thinking of ourselves as a healthcare company when the ACA passed and we are actively looking for ways to work into the healthcare system."
Kirchhoff noted that the Weight Watchers product is a combination of education, helping people adopt behavior modification techniques, and group support. He sees Weight Watchers as part of the healthcare industry trend to partner to deliver care. Physicians partner with community based delivery systems (including Weight Watchers) and payers. "These three groups, working in coordination, can achieve more than they would have accomplished alone."
The clinical definition of Weight Watchers described by Kirchhoff is "multicomponent intensive behavioral therapy…" "We are a community provider of this therapy."
Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.