Employer considerations before adopting a value-based health plan

The promise of value-based care is to deliver the best outcomes at a lower cost. Providers are incentivized to keep members healthy by proactively managing the health needs of the members, delivering high quality care while reducing the use of unnecessary tests and treatment.

Self-funded employers have a lot to gain from this model in higher quality, better experience and outcomes and reduced costs. However, it requires a shift in their thinking from the way benefits are designed and delivered today.

We think the effective implementation of value-based care for self-funded employers would require at least three considerations-

  • Value-Based Plan Design
  • Value-Based Network Design
  • Value-Based Care Delivery

Value-Based Plan Design

Unlike traditional plan design approaches, value-based plan design should be focused creating member experiences which encourage them to utilize high value services that produce better outcomes.

Benefit-AnalysisIt is important to carefully deliberate the implications of such design to ensure you have the systems and resources necessary to fully implement the design and your design fits within the culture of your organization.

Benefit administrators should also be cautious about how they communicate the value proposition of this model, if not done well, it may look like a restrictive narrow network.

They can integrate financial incentives such as lower premiums, lower copay, cash or gift cards, and focus on communicating the value proposition such as unique experience, plan of care, coordinated care etc. to encourage employees to use the system to achieve the desired results.

Value-Based Network Design

Employers can explore value-based care products through a health plan or a direct contract with a health system in an area where they have a large geographic footprint.. Either way, while designing networks, have an open discussion about how the providers can leverage what they’re already doing to deliver an improved experience for the employees.

network designWhile there are several models which they can use for contracting, one possible model is risk adjusted monthly rate per member for primary care, FFS with reference pricing for urgent care and severity adjusted episodic rate for scheduled inpatient care.

Each model should include adjustment for quality. Instead of using all CMS quality measures, the plan administrators can choose to focus on the measures that are important for their organization. For instance, if surgeries make up a big part of your costs,  you may want to pay higher to providers who have lower surgical complication rates because their outcomes are better.

Providers engaged in value-based care are likely to have a lot of data about your employees, you should seek assurance from them about their data security policies, procedures as well as reports on third party audits.

Value-Based Care Design

Value-based care design requires that providers provide both longitudinal, relationship based care management, and short-term, goal-oriented care management. By applying risk stratification, providers should identify members, their concerns and the level of care needed for each cohort.

In value-based care, the providers should be utilizing multiple channels (text, emails, portal, home visits, group visits etc.) and include chronic care management, behavioral health, self-management and medical management.

ACO care delivery model for employersCare coordination services are important components of value-based care delivery.  Providers may want to reduce the cost of care by steering members to their internal network, but it should not be done at the expense of member’s experience. The care coordination design should improve the transitions of care where the physicians are working more closely with hospitals and emergency departments, as well as with high volume specialty service providers.

Employers should ask for better data sharing on clinical, operational, financial data as well as reporting on quality measures such as HEDIS.  Other metrics impacting employee experience such as same-day appointments, doctor follow-ups, plan adherence, care plan per member, health performance against goals etc. should be checked against claim data to get a real-time insight into care delivery.

Value-based care holds a great promise for employers. It is designed around the specific needs of your employees who benefit from a team that coordinates their care, and technology that connects them and their providers with information to help get the right care — it is also going to reduce the costs for you.

Talk to us about how our health insurance solution can reduce costs, improve health outcomes and provide you better visibility &  control over your health benefits.

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Designing the network for your vision plan

John is a senior developer at a large internet company. He just got a text message from his plan, reminding him about his annual eye exam. The message takes him to the available providers near his office for scheduling his appointment. He takes the appointment, get his vision checked. He also wants to replace his lenses, so he logs into his benefits app, compare costs for lenses and orders it online with his HSA account.

Sounds simple, right? Except not all plans provide reminders, online appointments and/or online shopping experience.

Routine Eye exams are important to keep not only your eyes healthy, but your entire body. In fact, a routine eye exam can help detect diabetes and high cholesterol. Many times, eye diseases may not show symptoms until damage has been done.

The American Optometric Association recommends that adults ages 19 to 40 receive an eye exam at least every two years.

The eye exams and eye care should be the center of the vision plan, most vision benefit providers have created a network based on their own specific business needs, not necessarily with your employees in mind. The network encourages customers to buy more of their other products such as sunglasses and cosmetic vision wear, changing the focus on materials experience, rather than on the exam, personalized service or the quality of care.

The member’s behavior is changing. Historically John would have got his eye checked with an independent or chain optometrist and ordered his lenses from the same place. With his high deductible plans, he is more engaged in decision making and prefers to buy materials using an alternative method.

Employers should take a good look at their members’ care and shopping experience to determine whether their current managed care plans are addressing the desired simplicity, choice, transparency, costs and long term care.

Adapting to member’s changing needs means working with a network that provides a stronger offering and choices in eye wear, more transparent pricing, online scheduling for exams, availability of glasses and/or lenses to buy or pick up easily in store or delivered at home or office. In other words, the network that delivers on the promise of member centric care.