How This Employer Reduced Health Costs – and Improved Employee Health

A Case Study

Reduced Health Costs Improved Employee Health

 

Executive Summary

Our client is a South Carolina municipality with an annual public budget of over $53 million, insuring 800 health plan members. The City of Aiken is governed by seven elected City Council members and Mayor.

The Challenge

Managing self-funded health costs, while providing excellent benefits for employees and their families.

Outcome

Reduced Health Costs Improved Employee Health

Savings achieved by:
  • Sending information quickly & accurately
  • Keeping cost trends low
  • Paying claims properly & promptly
  • Expert COBRA administration
  • Compliance education & direction
  • Personal client relationship
  • Responsive account management
“We highly value our relationship with MedCost. They have helped us tremendously with ACA regulations and plan administration. We’re very appreciative of how they take care of any issues.”  
 – Al Cothran, Revenue Administrator, City of Aiken, SC

Reduced Health Costs Improved Employee HealthHow Aiken Reduced Health Costs & Improved Employee Health

Al Cothran knows numbers. And the numbers that this Aiken Revenue Administrator saw in rising medical costs concerned him. This South Carolina municipality was a former member of a state municipal group that pooled self-funded health insurance. But increasing government regulations presented a stiff challenge, especially after the state municipal group ceased to exist in 2011.

The City wanted to continue to offer lower deductibles as their employees aged and needed more benefits. As a municipality that self-funded health expenses, the staff and City Council needed a benefits partner that could navigate a highly regulated industry while understanding their unique needs.

As premiums, pharmacy and claims costs skyrocketed throughout the health care industry, the City of Aiken turned to their long-time partner to preserve expenses—MedCost.

Benefits of MedCost Partnership

*Constant Access to Expert Nurse Consultants

Aiken began a wellness program in 2003 after several employees died of heart disease. In 2007, the City contracted with Aiken Regional Hospital for an RN to staff an onsite clinic three days per week. Services expanded to five days as sick leave use decreased, along with workers’ compensation claims.

Aiken’s contract nurse has greatly benefited from the training she has received from MedCost prenatal nurses, specialty case managers and nurse health coaches. The contract nurse transmits this knowledge to Aiken employees.

And the addition of obesity to the COACH program has affected Al personally. He has lost 60 pounds and changed his nutrition significantly. The City’s Comprehensive Health program (COACH) is producing a 2:1 return on their investment.

*Compliance Knowledge of Government Regulations

“MedCost’s compliance department alone is worth the price of admission,” said Al. Complex regulations and legislative changes in the Affordable Care Act presented huge hurdles for Al’s staff. MedCost experts provided timely updates and deadlines. MedCost’s seamless management of COBRA has also been a relief. “One of the best things we ever did was to turn COBRA over to MedCost,” said Al.

*Customized Reporting

MedCost’s specific, measurable analyses identify spending trends that empower Al and his staff to take action. Key observations categorize at-risk populations, with recommendations for cost containment. medicalMedCost Care Management programs help support Aiken’s RN, especially in complex cases of cancer, diabetes or cardiac conditions. Employees are encouraged to get regular screenings.

“You can’t put a monetary amount on the heart attack you prevented,” said Al.

*Help with Employee Dependents

“A lot of our big claims are for dependents,” Al said. “Those dealing with cancer have been very complimentary of MedCost case managers who have helped them.” MedCost staff helps pinpoint members who need nursing support while communicating with Aiken’s onsite RN – avoiding gaps in care that can be costly in every way.

“Our COACH program has been a huge benefit for us, in cost savings of premiums. I can’t tell you how many cities have toured our facility to see how we are doing wellness. We highly value our relationship with MedCost.”MedCost

This case study was published with permission from the City of Aiken, SC.

Study: 30% of Children’s Hospital Readmissions May Be Preventable

childrens hospital readmissionsOne of the key indicators of the quality of a hospital’s care is how frequently its patients are readmitted within a month after being discharged.

A study this month examined readmission rates for pediatric patients and found that nearly 30% of them may have been preventable.

The study, published online by the journal Pediatrics, reviewed the medical records and conducted interviews with clinicians and parents of 305 children who were readmitted within 30 days to Boston Children’s Hospital between December 2012 and February 2013.

It excluded planned readmissions such as those for chemotherapy. Overall, 6.5% of patients were readmitted during the study period.

The study found that 29.5% of the pediatric readmissions were potentially preventable. In more than childrens hospital readmissionsthree-quarters of those cases, researchers determined that hospital-related factors played a role. A significantly smaller proportion were related to the patient (39.2%), often because of issues that arose after discharge, or the primary care physician (14.5%). (Multiple factors played a role in some patients’ readmissions, so the total exceeds 100%.)

The most common hospital-related reasons had to do with how patients are assessed, postoperative complications or hospital-acquired conditions.

(Kaiser Health NewsMichelle Andrews July 29, 2016)

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How to Turn Health Care Data into Dollars

Is your company one of the growing numbers of US employers using health care data to manage expenses?

Just as employers keep a close watch on profit and loss columns, the same analysis is now available for companies’ health care costs. Big data is increasingly driving improved, better coordinated care to improve employee health while managing spiraling expenses.

We know this is a complicated topic (just like health care). That’s why we’re offering a free white paper examining the role of big data in health care and how employers can achieve true quality, cost-effective outcomes.

Between 1999 and 2015, employer-sponsored health premiums rose 203%.[i] Managing employee health costs is becoming more and more difficult every year.

Big data compiles massive amounts of data from multiple sources, yielding key metrics and predictive analytics for health care providers. Providers can then leverage this into interventions that provide high quality, cost-effective care. And employers who receive regular reports on trends can work with a benefits administrator to better manage those costs while supporting employee health outcomes.

Jane’s Story

diabetic, advanced analytics, big dataHere’s an example of how MedCost applies this analysis. Jane,* a 42-year old female member with moderately-controlled diabetes, has health benefits through her job. Jane’s biannual visit to her Primary Care Physician (PCP) documents her routine lab work, prescriptions and referrals for preventive screenings.

Between PCP visits, this diabetic member gets the flu, causing severe increases in blood glucose levels. When Jane goes to the Emergency Room, the ER doctor increases her medication dosage. After she goes home, Jane’s personal blood glucose meter shows an alarming drop in her blood sugar levels. Jane calls her PCP, who adjusts her dosage to prevent more complications. Jane’s next checkup is planned in six months.

Was all the data communicated from the hospital’s electronic records, the lab vendor’s system, payer claims and her home monitoring glucose meter? Will the PCP be able to verify that Jane actually obtained her preventive mammogram or flu vaccine prescribed before the ER visit?

At MedCost, Jane’s case would be carefully monitored by her nurse health coach. If there is an issue, her nurse health coach would follow up.

white paper

Chronic illnesses like Jane’s need expert support to prevent worse outcomes and resulting higher costs. And advanced analytics can now identify patients and populations at risk for developing certain conditions prior to the actual onset of illness.

 The white paper, Transforming Data into Dollars, offers an understanding of factors influencing the need for advanced analytics solutions, including an example using the MedCost Care Management programs.

Here are other insights from the white paper:

BENEFITS OF ADVANCED ANALYTICS  
   
1.     Accurate Reporting Normalized measures based on industry-accepted tools of evaluation yield best results for your employees.
2.     Maximized Outcomes Your company will rate higher on the Analytics Sophistication Scale and outperform industry peers.
3.     Healthier Employees Potential risk for developing conditions can be identified and prevented.
4.     Lower Costs Wise management of expenses creates a sustainable long-term cost trend.

  We’ve identified high-risk employees, improved health results and minimized costly hospital visits using precise data analysis in a sample case study that illustrates these key benefits. Download our white paper to learn how.

white paper

*Actual patient data not used.

[i] “Recent Trends in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Premiums,” Kaiser Family Foundation, January 5, 2016, http://kff.org/infographic/visualizing-health-policy-recent-trends-in-employer-sponsored-health-insurance-premiums/ (accessed June 16, 2016).

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