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Health Insurers, Employers Out of Synch

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, August 8, 2012

According to the survey results, employers aren’t sure if insurers are part of the solution or part of the problem. Copeland notes that health plans rated next–to-last, ahead of retail clinics, among the top seven healthcare investments they value.

Only 39% of employers placed a high value on their investment in health insurance plans although they rank insurance company costs among the top three influencers of healthcare costs. In terms of investment value, employers tend to be more traditional in their outlook with investments in primary care and prescription drugs rated as having high value.

Copeland says the findings may reflect a general outlook among employers that health plans are not clearly communicating how they can help employers lower their cost trends. While acknowledging that the appreciation of primary care is "a huge positive on the employer side," he wonders if employers really know what they might do differently around primary care or prescription drugs to help lower their costs.

For example, there seems to be some confusion among employers as to what steps to take to develop their benefits strategies. Wellness, for example, received a middle-of-the-road rating around value but increasing wellness programs was ranked among the top three changes employers expect to make in their benefits strategy.

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