The evolution of health care benefits (Opinion) | TahoeDailyTribune.com

The evolution of health care benefits (Opinion)

The health insurance industry in America has undergone an unprecedented amount of change since its origins in the 1900s, and according to Health Affairs, it was just 40 years ago when workers began sharing in the cost of their health care coverage.

Rising medical costs, plus an increased demand for medical care, have contributed to growth within the health insurance industry, and it’s become increasingly complex with the introduction of new plan designs and government reforms.

As the health insurance industry evolves and changes, it creates a system sometimes at odds with itself. While everyone at Barton Health — doctors, nurses and support staff — works to ensure every patient receives exceptional care, we must also succeed within an insurance system we cannot control.

This is evident when providing health coverage to our own employees; while we’re in the “business” of caring for every patient, we have little control over factors that cause health benefits to evolve. Still, Barton Health is deeply committed to providing our employees with comprehensive coverage — even at a time when many employers are scaling back. (According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, employers offering health insurance fell by almost 9% between 1999 and 2017, the most recent year with data available.)

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On average, health spending by workers who are responsible for their families’ premium contributions and cost-sharing payments increased to $7,726 in 2018 – an 18% jump in five years.

In future years, insurance companies will continue to look for new ways to cut expenses.

This may include increasing the use of technology to cater to younger patients using artificial intelligence and mobile devices, and shifting to preventative care to keep patients healthy.

By predicting where health insurance may go, we hope to stay ahead of any shifts that could compromise our ability to provide a variety of quality coverage options for our employees.

With preventative care in mind, Barton Health offers discounted premiums for employees who engage with our employee wellness program, BHealthy. BHealthy offers a variety of health-related activities, including a mandatory set of four “CORE” elements such as a complimentary blood panel that our employees can complete to meet the program thresholds.

Barton provides eligible employees with three health plans to choose from.

The plans provide coverage levels with differing deductibles: two PPO plans with different premiums and deductibles ($750 or $2,500) or a high deductible plan with a health savings account (HSA).

Our least expensive plan costs $20-$60 per pay period, depending if the employee insures only themselves or their family and participates in Barton’s wellness program.

Additionally, copays for the PPO plans are deeply discounted, and don’t require employees to meet deductibles if the employee uses a Barton facility or provider.

Some examples include:

● Doctor visits and urgent care: $25 per visit

● Rehabilitation: $25 per visit

● MRI/ CT/ PET: $250

● Inpatient hospital visit: $750 per admission

● X-rays or Labs: $35

● Generic drugs: $15

These programs are designed to allow employees to choose a plan that best suits their health needs as well as their pocketbooks.

As the employer, Barton takes its responsibility seriously when providing health care benefits to its employees. Continuing to keep monthly premiums at an affordable level for employees means the employer absorbs more of the increased costs of insurance coverage.

In 2018 alone, Barton paid almost $12 million for medical health care to support its employees.

We do this because we understand how important affordable health care is to maintaining the well-being of our team members.

One thing is certain: as long as medical care improves and society evolves, it will continue to change.

This goes for health insurance as well.

Today’s health insurance landscape is not the same as our parents experienced, and it won’t be what our children experience, but we must continue to work to ensure the changes create a healthier quality of life.

Elizabeth Stork is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Barton Health.


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