America has doctors, nurses, and hospitals second to none in the world. Every day, countless Americans receive superb care. But it's also often true that—for many patients—quality falls short of the highest standards.
The single biggest test of the overhaul of the nation’s health care system doesn't come for more than two years, but that hasn’t stopped researchers and pundits from speculating about how employers will respond to the launch of more than 50 regional health exchanges. Will employers drop coverage and push workers to exchanges? Will the status quo reign? Will levels of employer-sponsored coverage actually increase?
Three years ago, when Deanna Scott, vice president of human resources and corporate operations for the Scooter Store was busy establishing the organization's wellness program, a report came across her desk which, in a disturbing way, confirmed the "ordinariness" of her firm. It showed that 82 of the company's 2,700 employees accounted for about half the organization's overall annual claims.
Nine years ago, when David Kohmescher stepped in as chief executive officer of the Newburgh, Indiana-based Women's Health Care, the 20-physician obstetrics–gynecology practice was in its first year of being self-insured. His immediate predecessor had led the organization through the transition from fully insured to self insured for what Kohmescher said were the usual reasons: cost, lack of control, general frustration.
According to a recent survey, employers today devote nearly 2 percent of their overall health care dollars to corporate wellness programs. If recent legislative action is any guide, the federal government would like to see that figure increase. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 included numerous provisions—dedicated funding, tax breaks, etc.—to promote wellness initiatives.