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Seeking Truth in Health Care (Part I)

Iowa Employer Benefits StudyI recently had the privilege of presenting summary results of the 2012 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© to the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA) Board. This group consists of leaders from hospitals across the state who are confronted with many difficult and disruptive challenges that will forever change how health care will be delivered and paid. It is my view the paradigm shift occurring in the insurance industry, as great as it is, pales in comparison to what is happening in the health care provider world.

Health care is very a humbling subject – the deeper I dig to learn the truths about this vast topic, the less I actually know! What a great paradox – as the health care discussion is both exhilarating and frustrating at the same time.

My message to the IHA Board emanates from four observations about the employer community that come from previous consulting work, discussions with smart professionals, attending regional and national conferences, and from our annual studies. Such observations, in no particular order, are simply stating a few obvious facts:

  1. Health insurance premiums for Iowa employers have increased by 164 percent from 1999 to 2012. A great deal of uncertainty exists for employers about the future of health insurance.
  2. Momentum continues for employers to embrace wellness initiatives – as there is an increasing desire to have both a healthier and a more productive workforce.
  3. Lack of transparency in health care is a major concern and frustration to Iowa employers and their employees. Health insurance has become a huge distraction to employers.
  4. Health care reform is viewed with considerable skepticism by Iowa employers.

Again, I admit these observations are quite elementary, especially for those who follow health care issues and policies. However, it is the potential implications of these observations that will cause major disruption within the health care industry. In next week’s blog, I will address some of those implications and how health providers will most likely be impacted.

Vaclev Havel, a Czech playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and politician (President of the Czech Republic from 1993 – 2003) once said: “Keep the company of those who seek the truth. Run from those who have found it.”

I could not say it any better – especially in the ‘new world’ of health care.

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Comments

  1. Anne Kinzel says

    One of the enduring issues is that after a concentrated effort to reform our healthcare financing system we are still stuck with a financing scheme that depends on a direct connection to employment. While there is no doubt that the business sector needs to contribute to the financing of health care, the direct link between employment and coverage is very problematic.

    When a person needs coverage on a profound level, a person is often no longer able to work thus severing the connection to paying for coverage through one’s compensation package, thus defeating the risk protection mechanism of insurance. On a pragmatic level an employee can spend years paying for coverage and then when needing to use the coverage the person is left out in the cold. We could and should have done better than this. EMPLOYEES need to be worried!

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