Why you should care about your employees’ healthcare data

by Mike Tilton

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In 2017, healthcare costs are expected to grow by more than 6 percent—far faster than overall inflation. Whether this increase is associated with the rising costs of prescription drugs or the growing number of individuals with chronic health conditions, getting smart about the source of healthcare costs has never been more critical.

As the cost of care continues to rise across the nation and in Arizona, employers may feel pressure to choose between shifting costs to employees and cutting benefits. However, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) encourages employers not to rush those decisions. Instead, they should take a closer look at the source of the costs to fully understand what benefit changes may be necessary or support programs that could be used to improve health and control costs.

Through data analysis, BCBSAZ can identify emerging issues or gaps in care and devise a path forward to keep your benefits competitive and more sustainable. As an example, one company assumed its rising healthcare costs were related to diabetes, but discovered it was due to preventable emergency room visits and low primary care physician involvement. As a result of BCBSAZ’s insights, the company adjusted its care management program and communication to zero-in on the behaviors driving the cost.

Every employer is unique and faces its own challenge when it comes to employee health. It’s important to examine available health data on a regular basis. When reviewing your company’s data, BCBSAZ recommends asking the following questions (which do not compromise employee privacy or violate HIPAA) to drive what you do next:

  1. What are the main cost drivers for the company—for example, utilization, specialty prescriptions or large claims?
  2. Are there any avoidable costs?
  3. Would a focus on wellness prevent future costs?
  4. What new conditions are emerging?
  5. Are risks and cost primarily coming from new employees or long-term employees?
  6. What other type of tools, data and programs are available to help improve employee health?

If you’re interested in learning more about balancing healthcare management costs before shifting additional fees to employees, contact mary.ogle@azblue.com.

BCBSAZ is Arizona’s largest health insurer and strives to provide the best value in health insurance while improving the quality of life of Arizonans. For more information, visit azblue.com.

Mike Tilton is the vice president sales at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona

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