- Most Americans are satisfied with their healthcare but worry about the cost, according to a survey by Transamerica Center for Health Studies. Eighty-four percent say they are very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of their healthcare but more than one-quarter — 27% — said they canceled an appointment because of cost. The study, an online survey composed of 3,760 U.S. adults, ages 18-64, was conducted from August 7 to August 19, 2019.
- Most Americans think that the government should act to rein in prescription drug prices. More than three quarters think the government should be allowed to negotiate prescription drug prices, and almost a quarter said they had not taken a medication that had been prescribed in the last 12 months because of the cost.
- Employer-provided health care matters, according to the survey respondents. Sixty-one percent of respondents said healthcare benefits are very important to their job satisfaction, second only to salary/pay, which came in at 72%. A little over half of those surveyed said they were staying at a job for health coverage. Almost a third — 30% — said they had to leave a job because their company did not offer health insurance.
Like their employees, employers are worried about the cost of healthcare and are looking for ways to improve health benefits while keeping expenses down. Some large employers are looking to improve the U.S. healthcare system by taking on an activist role. They are experimenting with new delivery and payment models, including performance networks, accountable care organizations and centers of excellence.
As employers grapple with healthcare costs, some appear to be turning toward innovation. Walmart, for example, recently announced new pilot programs for its 2020 medical plan that are aimed at reducing the cost of healthcare. The nationwide retailer said it will roll out a "featured provider" program in northwest Arkansas, Orlando/Tampa and Dallas/Fort Worth which will analyze data from public and private insurance programs to create reports on physicians that will take the "guesswork out of finding an affordable, quality local provider in eight specialties." The company also said it will test a "personal healthcare assistant" in North and South Carolina that will help employees with billing, appointments and medical information as well as help workers coordinate transportation and childcare for appointments.
For many employers, the top method for controlling healthcare costs is case management services that highlight possible barriers to employees receiving appropriate care; these were used by 71% of employers surveyed in recent research by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. Other popular strategies include telemedicine, 24-hour nurse hotlines, prior authorization requirements and claims utilization analysis that identifies employees' key health concerns. Telemedicine in particular is on the upswing, with 64% of surveyed employers offering it in 2018.
Employers know that healthcare is important to workers. This year's annual employee benefits survey by the Society for Human Resource Management revealed that one-fifth of employers increased their health-related and wellness benefits offerings in 2019. Of the 2,763 HR professionals surveyed, most view healthcare benefits as most important to workers.