Fed up with rising costs, big US firms dig into health care

Experts warn Cisco’s approach is actually not suitable for most employers.

For starters, companies need thousands of employees in one place, usually a city, said David Muhlestein, Chief Research Officer at health-care consultancy Leavitt Partners in Washington D.C. Then their health-care partner needs to be committed to improving patient health, rather than just offering a discount to win a big client.

“There are not a ton of providers who are truly well positioned to make those adjustments,” Muhlestein said.

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel says the item has found such partners since the item launched its Connected Care health plan several years ago. About 38,000 employees in addition to dependents are today enrolled in Arizona, California, brand-new Mexico in addition to Oregon.

Technology is actually critical to curbing costs. In Oregon, patients are encouraged to use video conferencing to speak with physicians when appropriate. At $49, the cost is actually one-third of an office visit.

Jennifer Leo, a 41-year old Intel project manager in Hillsboro, Oregon, chose Connected Care mainly because the item covers 100 percent of her husband’s insulin, a drug whose U.S. retail cost has more than doubled over the past several years.

Hospital network Providence Health & Services tracks her husband’s condition closely. however Leo said she, too, got personal attention when she came down which has a sinus infection on a weekend.

She booked a quick video appointment which has a doctor, who prescribed an antibiotic. The next day, the office of her primary care physician reached out to “check of which everything got taken care of,” Leo said.

Such follow-through has led to high patient satisfaction; Connected Care boasts a 95 percent enrollee retention rate, says Angela Mitchell, Intel’s head of U.S. health-care delivery.

in addition to the item has curbed costs in addition to boosted patient health, she said. Last year, for example, 78 percent of diabetics on the plan had their sugar levels under control, up coming from 69 percent in 2016, Mitchell said. Spending on people with the most complex health conditions was about 10 percentage points lower than on those with comparable issues outside the plan.

Intel spent nearly $700 million on health care last year, up about 1 percent coming from $690 million in 2016.

Still, Intel employees will sometimes ask Mitchell for help when they cannot see specialists quickly enough. In some cases, she will intervene in addition to call the health system directly to make the item happen.

“There are thousands of doctors in these networks. We’re not trying to act like the item’s perfect every single time,” Mitchell said.

Boeing, too, has hit some snags with plans the item negotiated directly with hospitals in four states covering 15,000 employees plus family members.

Doctors have willingly prescribed cheaper generic drugs, says Boeing global health-care head Jeff White. however getting them to commit to, say, physical therapy first before scheduling a costly knee replacement has been harder, he said.

White said direct arrangements have boosted quality in addition to saved Boeing money; he declined to provide exact figures. The aircraft maker spends about $2.4 billion annually on health care for more than 0,000 U.S. workers in addition to their dependents.

Some health-care experts point to the inherent conflict for providers: If they prevent expensive health crises through better care, they also lose out on more profitable services, such as hospital admissions.

“of which’s the challenge of trying to ask the health system to save money,” said Jack Hoadley, a health policy expert at Georgetown University.

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