Employees Are Spending More for Health Care, Using Less. Put a Stop to It!

Paying more for less is never a good thing, especially when it comes to employee health care costs. And while many people have become almost numb to this trend, Diversified Group is doing more than ever to help self-funded health plan clients fight back. With cost transparency tools contained in programs such as Pharamasense and RealTimeChoices, Diversified is providing employers and members the tools needed to compare out-of-pocket costs as well as quality.

Read on for a full article from BenefitsPro that discusses how employees are spending more on health care, but using it less.

Employees’ health care spending up, usage down

This article was published on January 24, 2018 on BenefitsPro, written by Jack Craver.

Drug Costs

Working Americans are using less care and paying more for health care.

Despite reducing their consumption of health care services, Americans with employer-sponsored insurance spent more than ever before on health care in 2016, according to a new study by the Health Care Cost Institute.

Spending is going up simply due to price increases for prescription drugs, operations and doctor’s visits.

Spending for those with employer health plans increased 4.6 percent in 2016. The previous year, spending increased 4.1 percent. In the prior two years, spending increased by less than 3 percent annually.

“Working Americans are using less care and paying significantly more,” Niall Brennan, president of HCCI, tells the Wall Street Journal. “That has huge implications for the health-care system, for the overall stability and growth for our economy as a whole.”

The study also examined how prices have increased for medical services and medication between 2012 and 2017. It found that spending on surgeries increased by an average of 30 percent during that time, while spending on administering drugs, such as chemotherapy, increased by 37 percent.

These spending increases coincided with a decline in the use of the services. Surgeries declined by 16 percent and the on-site administration of drugs declined by 4 percent.

The biggest increase, however, was for prescription drugs. The cost of brand-name drugs more than doubled, rising 110 percent during the five year period. That came despite a 38 percent decline in the number of prescription days filled.

When taking into account generic drugs, the spending increase on medication was still significant: 27 percent. Of course, many of the most notable price increases in recent years have involved generic drugs.

The dramatic increases in spending for prescription drugs helps explain why the American College of Physicians took the step two years ago to recommend that doctors prescribe generic versions whenever possible, reasoning that the high prices of branded drugs make it less likely that patients will fill their prescription.

High drug prices have also led a group of hospitals to team up to manufacture their own drugs, in an attempt to bypass a pharmaceutical industry that they believe has gone off the rails with its pricing.

Fittingly, on Wednesday the American Psychological Association released findings from a survey showing that roughly two-thirds of Americans say that the cost of health insurance is a source of stress in their household. Smaller majorities also report that changes to federal health care policy and the cost of medications cause them stress.

While the APA study found a high level of stress across all demographic groups, Hispanics and those who live in cities are far more likely to say they’re worried about them or a loved one losing access to health care services. Fifty-five percent of millennials said they are stressed by the lack of access to mental health services, compared to only 25 percent of baby boomers and 14 percent of older adults.


Wake-Up Call Saves Health Plan Over $3,000

dg-realtimechoices-blogWhen a plan member was referred recently to a New York area physician for a sleep study, she took it upon herself to compare costs at other facilities. Her research quickly showed that the provider’s price of $4,302 was much higher than the “fair” price of $1,300 available at another facility in her area. By using RealTimeChoices to access the Healthcare Bluebook, the member not only found a high quality local provider to conduct the sleep study, but saved $3,002 in the process!

RealTimeChoices is a convenient healthcare cost transparency tool (mobile app) available from Diversified Group, New England’s first and longest standing independent Third Party Administration firm. Easily accessed by website or mobile device, the RealTimeChoices app enables plan members to shop for and identify fair prices for healthcare services from physicians and other providers in their local area.

By following familiar red, yellow and green “traffic light” graphics, members can see the range of prices charged by various local providers for common services or procedures. Providers offering “fair” prices are easily identified by green indicators. Quality ratings and patient reviews are also available.

For more information on RealTimeChoices and other cost transparency tools, contact Diversified Group at 888-322-2524 or visit dgb-online.com.

Healthcare Bluebook Proves a Potential for Savings with RealTimeChoices

dg-realtimechoices-blogDiversified Group offers RealTimeChoices – an app accessible via website or mobile device that allows plan members to shop for and identify fair prices for healthcare services they need. This healthcare cost transparency tool also lets plan members find doctors or providers in their local area who offer that service along with quality ratings and patient reviews.

Putting this kind of control at the fingertips of the consumer gives them the necessary data to make better healthcare decisions. And, it’s not difficult to understand how better decision making can ultimately lead to lower costs – for plans and plan members alike. Recently the Healthcare Bluebook released their return on investment (ROI) statistics in relation to the RealTimeChoices program. Please note that these stats are subject to the client and the level of member engagement, etc.

  • Standard ROI projection is a savings of $1,500 per event
  • Overall savings estimates of 0.5% – 2.5% of total medical spend for clients using rewards

These are savings no one can afford to pass up, so give your plan members the tools they deserve to make the choices they need.

Learn more about RealTimeChoices or contact a Diversified Group Sales Representative at 888-322-2524.

Cost Comparison Tools Becoming More Important to Healthcare Consumers

Some of the information below is from an article written by Rebecca Moore from www.plansponsor.com.

It’s no longer a secret that the cost of healthcare services and procedures can vary greatly by location and by provider. And even though healthcare consumers are becoming increasingly aware of this, a survey recently found that only 29% of health benefit plan sponsors offer a price comparison tool.

More studies showed:

  • 42% of respondents said having a price comparison tool in their wellness program is “very important”.
  • 48% said having a price comparison tool in their wellness program would be “nice to have”.

Continue reading

RealTimeChoices Mobile App Puts Cost Transparency at Your Fingertips

dg-real-time-choices-blogWhile everyone talks about healthcare cost transparency, Diversified Group is taking action by implementing the RealTimeChoices mobile app from American Health Data Institute.

With a website and mobile app displaying easy to follow “traffic light” graphics, RealTimeChoices gives members the critical tools they have always lacked…

  • The ability to compare prices for more than 200 common procedures
  • A mobile app that makes it easy to receive healthcare services at a fair price
  • A rating system that provides “below fair pricing” and rewards up to $100 per procedure

Finally a system that gives members the data needed to make intelligent decisions. And better decision making means lower costs – for your members and your plan.

Plan Members Can Now Access RealTimeChoices on the Diversified Member Portal!

As part of the continued enhancements to our member portal, we have added a section completely dedicated to RealTimeChoices! Now when members login to their Diversified account, they will see a RealTimeChoices tab that contains important program materials, contact information and a link to compare providers. We think this is a much more efficient way for members to access this program.

In order for your health plan to get all of the benefits of this program, it is important that you help promote it to your employees!

If you have any questions or would like to schedule employee meetings to promote the program, please contact your Diversified Sales Representative at (888) 322-2524 or email us today!