Frustrated with insurers, some large companies getting into their own healthcare

  • Employers have held growth in the average per-employee cost of health benefits to about 3% annually.
  • Comcast health care costs are increasing by about 1 percent a year, well below the 3 percent average of other large employers and below general inflation.
  • Their model is based on providing employees support and assistance in making the right health care decisions for themselves and their families.
  • Other employers are focusing more attention on unsatisfying hospitals and doctors.
  • Employers, including that Amazon-Berkshire-JPMorgan alliance, are increasingly unhappy with the nation’s health care systems.

Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, and Comcast al have one thing in common: they are dealing with high health care costs for employees and want to reduce this expense.  The best way? Don’t wait for insurers.  Take on health care costs by providing employees with better health management tools and eventually take on PBM’s in negotiating prices with drug companies.

According to the NY Times “Comcast, which spends roughly $1.3 billion a year on health care for its 225,000 employees and families, has steered away from some of the traditional methods other companies impose to contain medical expenses. It rejected the popular corporate tack of getting employees to shoulder more of the rising costs — high-deductible plans, a mechanism that is notorious for discouraging people to seek medical help”.

People who jumped the gun and thought Amazon was getting into health care didn’t understand that what Amazon wants to do is provide health care for THEIR employees. Amazon now employs 566,000 people worldwide, so even little cost reductions can mean a lot to their bottom line.

Imagine, if you will, a huge employer like Amazon or Comcast is negotiating directly with drug companies and cutting out drug middlemen like PBM’s.  It’s already happening as Amazon is hiring their own people for an internal PBM.

Today, large, self-insured employers are demonstrating how health acre savings goals can be met. Employers are improving the consumer healthcare experience, driving better health outcomes for their employee and member populations, and achieving substantial health care cost savings per year.

In some cases it means steering employees away from unnecessary procedures such as MRI’s or even minor surgery.  Wal*Mart has even partnered with the Mayo Clinic to help employees with consistent health issues.

Will these companies bypass PBM’s?  Yes.  Corporations see PBM’s as too profitable at their expense.  By bringing a PBM’s function in house they could save millions of dollars and that is the sound they like to hear.  In short, they are tired of waiting for disruption and are out to disrupt an industry that has too many hands in the patient’s pocket.