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Happy 15th Birthday!

Birthday Cake for 2013 Iowa Employer Benefits Study

Our annual Iowa Employer Benefits Study© is about to take place. I’m really looking forward to this year’s survey for these important reasons:

  • This will be the 15th Study conducted since we started this particular survey in 1999. Some ‘birthdates’ are celebrated with more meaning than others…and 15 is a significant amount of time to show trending patterns and establish a credible track record!
  • Three new modules of questions will be added in this year’s Study.

1. The first module will gauge whether employers will keep their health plans (this would apply to those employers with 50+ employees). In addition, we will determine how prepared employers are regarding health reform requirements. This module is extremely relevant because employers will be making decisions for 2014, the first year most health reform provisions will take effect.

2.  The second new module will be added that will determine how Iowa employers view their local community health care providers – specifically hospitals and physicians. Modules two and three will begin to address the upstream portion of ‘Our Health Care River.’ Our newly established company, Heartland Health Research Institute, will then begin to tackle the implications of the results from these two modules.

In this module, employers will grade hospitals and physicians on 11 key issues, including: transparency of costs, outcomes, coordination of care, concern for patient satisfaction, ability to engage patients, and so on. In addition, employers will be asked to measure their TRUST of these providers. Measuring trust is extremely important for a number of reasons. David Shore, Founding Director of the Trust Initiative at Harvard School of Public Health, once said that ‘trust is the currency of commerce.’

To learn more about the trust issue in health care, please see my earlier blogs:

The Currency of Commerce (Part 1)
Trust – A Distinguished Healthcare Trait (Part 2)
Trust – Now is a Good Time (Part 3)

3.  The third module will address the type of data needed by employers to manage employee health costs. It will help identify who should have the responsibility to supply the primary source of this data to employers and their employees (i.e. health insurers, government or health providers – such as hospitals or physicians.) In addition, we will learn how knowledgeable employers are regarding the Iowa-based web resources currently available on our Iowa hospitals.

Rest assured, we will continue to ask our core questions about the benefit components being offered by Iowa employers. After all, this is the initial reason we began this groundbreaking Study 15 years ago. One thing I have learned over the years of conducting this Study is the importance of constantly monitoring the marketplace — asking fresh questions and addressing new and potential trends.

If your organization is randomly selected to participate in this year’s Study, we highly encourage you to share in our celebration by participating in the survey. Here’s to adding the 15th candle to our cake!

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