Value-Based Purchasing Tops List of Health Benefit Trends to Watch in 2018

Value-Based Purchasing Tops List of Health Benefit Trends to Watch in 2018

The National Business Group on Health says employers are looking beyond benefits designed for more health care bang for their buck.

Raising deductibles to moderate premium increases will only go so far. Instead, more employers will be investigating new value-based reimbursement arrangements this year to get better care for workers for the same or less cost.
The pursuit of value-based purchasing arrangements tops the list of employer health benefit trends to watch in 2018, according to the National Business Group on Health. The Washington-based employer health coalition released a list of nine employer health benefit trends to watch to this year. The NBGH released the list upon request to journalists who cover employer health care issues.
Among the value-based purchasing arrangements being sought by employers are bundled-payment deals with recognized centers of excellence and risk-based contracts with high-value provider networks and accountable care organizations, or ACOs, the NBGH said.
For example, 15 percent of employers with 200 or more workers offered health plans in 2017 that featured high-performance or tiered provider networks, according to the 2017 Employer Health Benefits Survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust.
“Employers continue to manage costs through plan design efforts, but they are also pursuing ways to support changes in how health care is paid for and delivered to drive more effective, efficient and affordable care,” the NBGH said.
In rank order, the other eight employer health benefit trends to watch this year, according to the NBGH, are:

2. Employee Experience. “Employers are empowering employees and their families through concierge services, coaching and decision support to help them navigate the health care system, understand treatment options and identify the best places to go for care, all in an effort to improve the consumer experience,” the NBGH said.
3. Engagement Platforms. “Broad-based communications are ineffective in engaging employees at the time they need support.  Engagement platforms have emerged that can aggregate employer resources and leverage data and technology to push personalized, actionable messages to engage employees in the moment with relevant resources,” the NBGH said.
4. Specialty Drugs. “The current pricing model for these drugs is antiquated, unsustainable and unaffordable and criticizing it has become popular among politicians and the public. Advancing risk-sharing and other value-based pricing models and reexamination of the supply chain will be an area of focus,” the NBGH said.
5. Workforce Strategy. “Investments in employee well-being, which encompasses emotional and financial well-being, social connectedness and job satisfaction, in addition to physical health, are becoming integral to the global workforce strategy of a growing number of companies,” the NBGH said.
6. Behavioral Health: “Employers are taking measures to…expand access to counseling in worksite clinics, and increasingly offering telehealth for behavioral health services,” the NBGH said.
7. Opioid Use. “Employers are taking steps to assure sufficient coverage of treatment, counseling, and other support services; educating managers and employees to increase awareness of services available to employees and family members who may need treatment; working with health plan partners and providers to reduce inappropriate use and misuse; and putting restrictions in place for prescription opioids,” the NBGH said.
8. Precision Medicine. “While many of these diagnostics and therapies are costly, they promise to improve the effectiveness of care by getting to the right diagnosis sooner and better identifying the right treatment for a patient’s specific condition and their genetic makeup. Demonstrating their effectiveness will be critical.  The potential for employers is a healthier workforce and better value for the health care dollars they spend,” the NBGH said.
9. Disruptive Innovation. “The question is will disruption be able to drive greater efficiency and effectiveness and a better customer experience in health care. Employers are eager to pilot many of these innovations and encourage disruption that promises to transform health care delivery,” the NBGH said.

To learn more about bundled-payment deals, read “Healthcare Happy Meals” in Twin Cities Business.

To learn more about ACOs, read “Add ACOs As An Option On Employer Benefits Surveys,” in Twin Cities Business.