Healthcare costs decrease for employees in 2010
Nov. 19, 2009, DANVILLE – Geisinger Health System will provide employees with lower per paycheck costs in 2010 while maintaining the current level of health insurance benefits, a notable accomplishment during an era of exploding healthcare costs.
“We have always been proud to offer employees high-quality health benefits, and to be able to continue providing these services at a lower cost to employees is virtually unheard of,” said Rich Merkle, chief human resource officer.
A May 2009 report by insurance consulting firm Milliman estimated that healthcare costs would increase by 7.4 percent in 2009, and that the average amount employees spent on healthcare would rise by 15 percent. A report by benefits consulting giant Hewitt Associates projected the average out-of-pocket cost of healthcare for employees in 2010 would rise by an additional 10 percent.
To offset the increasing cost of healthcare, many employers are offering lower cost plans with higher deductibles, higher co-payments and other increases in fees tied to care. Other companies are offering new benefits such as life insurance or long-term care insurance at low rates to compensate for decreases in affordable healthcare.
Merkle also noted the high utilization rate of preventive services not typically included in employer health packages contributed to Geisinger’s decrease in employee healthcare costs.
“Through our partnership with Geisinger Health Plan, we have had a lot of success with various innovative programs for our employees and their families,” he said. “Our free drug program allows employees and their family members to get prescriptions for chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol, at no cost, and GHP’s health management program provides guidance and motivation for health improvement in patients with complications including hypertension or coronary artery disease.”
“As increased numbers of employees continue to use their healthcare in a proactive way, many health problems can be avoided, and this can contribute toward lower insurance rates,” Merkle added.
MyCare Solutions, the health plan selected by most Geisinger employees, will decrease in cost by 1.09 percent for those purchasing individual or two-person plans, and costs will decrease by 0.14 percent for those purchasing family plans, Merkle said.
Most importantly, he added, there will be no change in deductibles, co-payments or Geisinger’s preventative services.
“Our focus is always to offer high-quality benefits to our employees, and we are in a unique position to do so this year at a lower cost,” Merkle said.
About Geisinger Health System
Geisinger is a $2.1 billion integrated health services organization widely recognized for its innovative use of the electronic health record, and the development and implementation of innovative care models including advanced medical home and ProvenCare ("warranty") program. The system serves more than 2 million residents throughout 41 counties in central and northeastern Pennsylvania. For more information, visit www.geisinger.org.
About Geisinger Health Plan
Geisinger Health Plan, begun in 1985, is headquartered in Danville, PA and is one of the nation's largest rural HMOs. GHP is currently the top-rated plan in Pennsylvania and #6 in the country, according to U.S. News and World Report and the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)*. The plan serves more than 220,000 members in 42 counties. Coverage is available for businesses of all sizes, individuals and families, and Medicare beneficiaries. As part of the Geisinger Health System, GHP has been recognized nationally as a model for health care reform with documented success in innovative programs such as the patient-centered medical home. For more information, visit thehealthplan.com.