App from Iowa Company Offers Money-saving Health Care Solution for Both Employers and Employees
The CDC estimates that nearly half of all medical costs are avoidable, but the vast majority of Americans don’t know how to dodge unnecessary or unreasonable charges, which drives up costs for everyone. The only way out of this health care crisis is for employees to proactively manage their health and better spend their (and your company’s) health care dollars. But the health care system is complicated, and employees need tools to help them make good choices that improve their personal health and finances and your company’s bottom line.
An Iowa company is working to do just that. Predictive Health Partners of West Des Moines uses real-time data, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to help employees save on health care costs. Perhaps just as important, the information is delivered how and where they live their lives — on their phones.
There is a growing trend in our country’s health care system: Many companies are shifting more of the burden of uncontrollable health care costs to employees, from higher deductibles to increased out-of-pocket costs. Makes sense, right? When faced with a 10 percent increase in forecasted costs, companies believe their best option is to have the insured employees share in that increase. While this may seem logical, many do not realize two significant problems that will be disastrous in the long run.
The first problem? Increasing deductibles are creating a financial time bomb. According to a recent study, only 37 percent of Americans have enough savings to pay for an unexpected $500 medical bill. The other 63 percent would have to resort to measures like cutting back spending in other areas (23 percent), charging to a credit card (15 percent) or borrowing funds from friends and family (15 percent) to meet the cost of the unexpected event.
What’s worse? According to a study by Ipsos Public Affairs, one in five (19 percent) report that their main strategy to avoid paying high medical bills is not going to the doctor until their situation is dire. Only 7 percent opt instead to research doctors, facilities, and/or costs ahead of time.
This perfectly illustrates the second problem with shifting health care costs to employees. The reason these costs continue to rise is driven primarily by the fact that Americans are poor consumers of health care. It’s not necessarily our fault; the health care system is complex. We don’t know how to shop for providers, procedures or prescriptions. Worse still, we have no idea what care will cost or if the bill is even correct when it arrives in the mail.
Also, many people rack up health care costs due to poor self-care. A recent Rand study estimated 67 percent of all costs are caused by just 28 percent of employees who struggle with managing their chronic conditions.
Employees need help — and we all have a stake in this.
More employers are looking to provide solutions to their people to help them better manage their health and health care dollars. That’s where companies like Predictive Health Partners come in.
Just ask Iowa Spring Manufacturing of Adel. Predictive Health Partners is working with them to provide employees with a virtual health care concierge on their smartphones to help them be better consumers of health insurance and better managers of their health.
“Helping our employees and their families save significant money is the right thing to do, especially if a lot of those costs are avoidable,” said Iowa Spring Manufacturing CEO Tim Bianco. “If it helps take a big financial burden off their family’s shoulders, then we all win in the process.”
The solution includes an easy-to-use smartphone app that integrates all of an employee’s health insurance information and benefits, including dental, vision and health savings accounts, in one convenient place. It even shows employees and their spouses the amount of their annual deductible paid and health savings balances within two days of a claim.
“We wanted to provide our employees with a very convenient way for them to keep more of their money in their pockets while making sure they get the health care they need,” said Bianco. “Let’s face it, it’s not simple for most people to navigate their health insurance and benefits. We think it’s critical to empower our employees with a tool on their mobile phones — it’s where and how they live most of their lives today.”
The app provides 24/7 free telemedicine, helps find the best health care providers and facilities for the employee, schedules appointments according to preferences, and finds significant savings on prescriptions and even reviews confusing medical bills.
“The app is free to employees and there’s really nothing else like it in health care,” said Predictive Health Partners Founder and CEO Jim Lewis. “It’s like having a virtual health concierge team that is always looking to help you live a healthier life and save time and money.”
Results for other clients have been impressive. Based on a 2017 study of 30,000 users, 85 percent of insured employees including spouses downloaded and used the app and 96 percent were satisfied, resulting in an average annual savings of over $378 per covered employee. For a company in Kansas with 1,500 employees, the same solution had 246 provider recommendations, hundreds of telemedicine consultations and 723 reviewed prescriptions, all resulting in more than $115,000 in measurable savings in just the first six weeks of implementation.
“We’re always looking for new ways to save money and be more efficient, and our health care expenses are a major cost center,” said Bianco. “It seems like a logical step for artificial intelligence and mobile apps to help in this area the way they are helping in every other major cost center like manufacturing, distribution and customer satisfaction. The fact that it is now so affordable and simple to implement is a breakthrough we were willing to invest in for our mutual benefit.”