Are You Encouraging Members to Shop for the Best Care and the Best Price?

It can be as easy as handing them a check for a percentage of savings.

In last month’s HCU, we discussed the flexibility that self-funding provides – emphasizing that within regulatory parameters, self-funding gives the employer significant power over plan design, selection of providers, ways to incentivize plan members and much more.

These days, more and more employers are choosing to reward employees who do their homework and find high quality care at more affordable prices. We’ve all heard about joint replacements in major markets ranging in price from $11,000 to $120,000 or hospital charges for baby deliveries varying from $8,000 to $35,000. Or how about the $300 nebulizer that can be found on Amazon for $118 – need we continue?

While naysayers are quick to complain about employees who seem oblivious to the healthcare cost crisis, smart employers are encouraging their members to become part of the solution.

Many incentivize employees to help lower prescription drug costs by waiving copays on generics. Encouraging the use of Telemedicine and Minute Clinics goes a long way to help reduce Emergency Room utilization.

Still other plans are giving a significant percentage of their savings back to every employee who chooses a recommended hospital for a costly procedure. This can amount to hundreds or even thousands of dollars – real money!

These measures are not rocket science. Rather they are good old-fashioned common sense – no different than choosing one credit card over another because it gives you cash back on your purchase. We respond to incentives all the time and so do your employees.

To learn how Diversified Group helps self-funded employer groups turn members into responsible healthcare consumers, just give us a call.

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There’s More to Know About AHPs

bundled-costsMany employers will find it interesting that AHPs will continue to be categorized as MEWAs – Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements. This consideration will make association health plans subject to some state regulations that severely restrict the formation of self-funded MEWAs.

Having to comply with the rules of each state will make AHPs more difficult to organize. While associations can create a plan that extends across state lines, they will have to follow the rules of the state they are in that has the most restrictive laws. As an example, an AHP based in New Jersey that extends into New York would still have to follow the more restrictive laws of New York.

Even though the regulations are more restrictive than many would like, AHPs should enable many small employers to offer their employees better health benefits at more affordable rates.

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Is Your Health Plan a Victim of Pharmacide?

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Over the past several months, the Trump administration has introduced several ideas intended to fight skyrocketing prescription drug prices – everything from forcing manufacturers to display prices in their television commercials to having Medicare base payments for costly drugs on average prices in other industrialized nations, which are much lower than in the U.S.

While some prefer to criticize or sit silently by as prices keep rising, we say keep the ideas coming. This is a crisis requiring aggressive action, like our Pharmasense program, that tackles the real problems driving the cost of specialty drugs used to treat complex medical conditions.

Prior Authorization (Pre-Certification) is at the core of Pharmasense. It helps self-funded health plans avoid potential conflicts of interest that enable massive mark-ups and other abuses go unchecked. Pre-certifying specialty drug prescriptions prevents hospitals or PBMs from reviewing authorizations and dispensing specialty drugs without any independent review process. The same is true when providers submit specialty drug prescriptions as claims under the medical plan rather than the prescription drug benefit plan. As an independent TPA, we use these tools to deliver quality patient outcomes and significant cost savings by avoiding the kinds of conflicts described above.

If your prescription drug costs are spiraling out of control, it’s time to take serious action. Talk to us about ways to prevent Pharmacide today!

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Are Your Plan Members Sharing in Your Plan Savings?

A little skin in the game can make a big difference.

At our recent “Let’s Take Control” themed Solutions Day, Adam Russo of the Phia Group shared his story that earned front page coverage in the Boston Globe. He told the audience about a tactic Diversified Group has helped many employer groups implement over the years – sharing plan savings with employees who are willing to shop for high quality, lower cost providers.

As Adam illustrated, employees of Phia Group who do their part to lower costs receive 20% of the plan savings. A member who saves the plan $5,000 on the cost of an MRI receives $1,000. And that’s just one example – their plan places no limit on the amount of savings it will give back to a covered member.

Diversified helps many self-funded employer groups craft their plan document to include member incentives. Waiving copays on generic drugs and urgent care visits is an easy option to implement. Another powerful step is to reward plan members who speak with HR before arranging for a costly healthcare procedure such as surgery. Not only will this engage members and open their eyes to available savings, but it can often create an opportunity to better manage or perhaps even avoid a large claim in the future.

Incentivizing members is just one of the ways we’re helping employers “take control” of rising healthcare costs. To learn more about this and other solutions made possible by self-funding, give us a call at your convenience.

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Bringing Forward Thinking and Transparency to Employee Benefits

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Diversified Group continues its efforts to bring a revolutionary perspective and innovation to employee healthcare. With the recent launch of our monthly email newsletter, Healthcare Uncensored, we are attempting to break down the walls of healthcare complexity and shed light on the confusing state of employee health benefits. Each issue addresses and openly discusses a particular trend or pressing issue that is having great impact on employers and plan members.

“Real change in the world of health benefits won’t happen unless everyone – employers, brokers, providers and consumers – gets involved,” said Brooks Goodison, President of Diversified Group.

By encouraging all to join the conversation and asking questions most are afraid to address, we are paving the way for true healthcare transparency and trying to provide real solutions to the employee benefit concerns of many.

We are proud to say that our efforts are not going unnoticed. Earlier this month, Diversified Group was recognized by The Phia Group with the 2018 Empowered Plans Award at its annual MVP (Most Valuable Partners) event. “We analyzed all of our MVPs based on a number of parameters including, but not limited to, collaboration with The Phia Group, beta testing, using of services and products, a willingness to innovate and take risks, a forward-thinking methodology and efforts taken to secure the future of our industry. When we finished our calculations, Diversified Group was a clear winner.” stated Adam Russo, CEO of The Phia Group.

“We are very honored to have earned this recognition from The Phia Group. Empowering plans is the core value we bring to our customers seeking effective alternatives to the traditional carrier based ASO and fully insured plans – the market is hungry for empowerment,” stated Brooks Goodison in response to the announcement.

Furthermore, The Phia Group recently interviewed Brooks Goodison as part of their “Empowering Plans: Best of the Best – Sitting Down with an MVP amongst MVPs” Podcast. This was part of The Phia Group’s “Partners in Empowerment” series. In the episode, which is now available on YouTube, Brooks discusses the industry at large, the appeal as well as the challenges and what makes Diversified Group different than the typical Third Party Administrator.

Diversified Group is honored to see our cutting-edge focus and commitment to full transparency gaining recognition within the self-funded community.

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Commonsense Reporting Bill Introduced

dg-commonsense-reportingIn October, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would ease the ACA reporting mandates for employer-sponsored health plans. The bill would roll back the reporting requirements of Section 6056 and replace them with a voluntary reporting system. The bill would also allow payers to transmit employee notices electronically rather than having to send paper statements by mail.

While self-funded health plans must now comply with Sections 6055 and 6056, it is not yet clear how the bill would affect Section 6055 requirements. Senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Mark Warner of Virginia, sponsors of the bill, say their proposal would give the government a more effective way of applying premium tax credits to consumers who purchase insurance through an Exchange, something the administration has been trying to accomplish.

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Responding to Growing Demand for Transparency

Experts agree that a lack of true price transparency has contributed significantly to the inefficiency in healthcare. Several websites compare the costs for certain procedures at varying hospitals, but it’s still very difficult, if not impossible, to make an informed choice when preparing for a non-emergency procedure. As a result, most people still go to doctors participating in a covered network and follow physician referrals when a specialist is required. In most cases, these choices are made without any knowledge of the cost.

Powerful Mobile Technology

Today, leading TPAs are providing self-funded health plan members with a variety of very powerful mobile transparency tools. One new mobile app enables members to identify fair pricing for more than 200 common procedures, including surgeries, imaging and diagnostic testing. By linking a rewards program, the app awards financial incentives when high quality, competitively priced providers are selected over those with lesser ratings.

Another software maker that describes a third of healthcare procedures as “shoppable”, has introduced a mobile app that enables plan members to search for physicians by procedure, location and price. This tool even goes beyond facts and figures to provide detailed descriptions of the procedure being searched. When members need further assistance, care navigators are available to provide online support via a live chat option.

Expert Administration Still Matters

While a totally open pricing system may never be possible in a business as complex as healthcare, TPAs are making self-funded health plans more transparent all the time. Strategies such as Reference Based Pricing and Concierge Health Advocacy are having a tremendous impact on cost and employee engagement. And while insurance carriers typically withhold claims data from fully insured groups, TPAs are experts at helping their clients put valuable claims data to work to identify cost drivers and manage chronic conditions in ways that help the plan avoid catastrophic claims in the future.

As the transition from volume to value-based healthcare continues, more responsibility will land in the hands of plan members. Smart employers know that a well-designed health plan can foster positive change and lower costs only if members understand their benefits. As long as self-funded plans, highly personal service and creative ideas are allowed to flourish, the number of engaged consumers capable of making economically wise healthcare decisions will continue to grow.

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