Just weeks before the New Year, Congress put the brakes on the much-maligned ACA “Cadillac Tax,” fishtailing it for at least two years. Originally set to take effect on January 1, 2018, ObamaCare’s Cadillac Tax – which levies a hefty 40% excise tax on “high-end” employer health plans – was put on hold until 2020. Due to outcry from employers and union groups alike, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreed to delay implementation of the controversial tax, giving them more time to make adjustments and possibly repeal it altogether.
The Obama Administration says one of the primary benefits of the Cadillac Tax is reducing disparity between low-end and high-end health plans. They also say it ensures that those who can afford the best health plans contribute tax dollars to health care. The extra tax revenue from high end plans would help subsidize lower end plans. Economists supporting the tax further argue that in order to hold down the cost of care everyone has to have enough skin in the game. If your insurance plan pays for too much, the thinking goes, you won’t be as wise a consumer as you would be if you had to spend that money out of your own pocket.
The problem with this notion is that cost escalation can’t be solved by penalizing more comprehensive plans. The only effective “cure” for high healthcare costs is good health, which is why focusing on ways to make healthcare services more convenient is a far better strategy.
Let’s face it. Even the healthiest people get sick. But when they do, the faster they get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan underway, the faster they heal and the sooner they’re off costly medications and no longer paying for doctor visits. All of this makes insurers and employers very happy because both share in the costs of meds and doctor’s visits.
Employers understand this all too well, which is why they are implementing onsite health clinics and employee wellness programs with increased frequency. Having a health clinic located at the worksite makes it extremely easy to see a doctor without taking time away from work. (Most employers do not dock pay from employees while they are visiting the onsite health clinic.) Another benefit of an onsite clinic is the close, professional relationship that inherently comes with working in the same office as one’s health provider. People with chronic illnesses often learn that the frequent encouragement of their provider is remarkably helpful in keeping them on the path to wellness. This is more easily accomplished in the onsite clinic setting due to the close proximity of patient and provider.
If legislators really want to stop the proverbial car from fishtailing and solve the nation’s health care crisis, they will incent more employers to establish effective health and wellness programs. Note the word “effective.” While most providers make similar claims of producing healthier employees and higher cost savings, results are vastly disparate. Healthstat knows that positive health outcomes occur only when healthy behaviors are embraced and enacted with consistency. Individuals with chronic conditions – those making 86 percent of the medical claims on a group policy – need professional help. That help is most effective when it comes from someone highly skilled and routinely trained to recognize a patient’s readiness to change and motivate the patient to the next level. Only then will individuals actually turn unhealthy behaviors into positive ones FOR LIFE. And when that happens, they feel better, which leads to fewer absences, they’re more productive, and they have fewer medical claims, which collectively drives straight to lower group health plan costs.
Is your company health and wellness program working? We'’d love to know why or why not.