At the CBIA Annual Meeting last night, I had the pleasure of hearing a keynote address by Elizabeth Teisberg, co-author of the book: Redefining Health Care: Creating a Value-Based Competition on Results.  Her presentation focused on the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to health care reform — one that controls costs, improves patient outcomes and creates greater value for our health care dollars.

Her presentation has important implications for employers of all sizes — a fact emphasized in an article she wrote earlier this year on "Rethinking the Role of Employers".  Indeed, instead of just worrying about which plan has the lowest co-pays, she emphasizes that employers should instead be thinking of the plans that provide the greatest value:

The most important single change necessary is for employers to think about healthcare in terms of value, not cost. Value is the health outcomes achieved for the money spent. Cost includes not only the immediate, short-term costs of treatment but the long-term costs of ongoing care as well as the indirect cost of poor health. The goal should be to increase value, not reduce the short-term costs of health benefits. New research on value-based health care delivery reveals some powerful, and ultimately optimistic, principles.

How to start moving towards this model? Interestingly, it’s a step that some employers have already focused on: creating an aggressive approach to wellness, prevention, screening, and active management of chronic conditions.

But beyond that, she highlighted two employers that have taken an even more aggressive approach to creating value for their employees — offering to pay for care at world-class hospitals like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. What’s notable about this? The employees are in states like WyomingA good summary of their success can be found here. 

Why Mayo? The article explains:

The approach in Wyoming is a twist on efforts by insurers and Medicare, the U.S. health program for the elderly and disabled, to encourage better care by rewarding hospitals that meet national quality standards.

In doing so, the employers can actually lower their costs by making sure that employees get the best care the first time around.

As open enrollment season approaches, Ms. Teisberg’s suggestions for employers may be a way to start making healthcare a win-win proposition for employers and employees alike.