Employers Support Wellness and Consumerism Efforts in Health Reform

July 20, 2009 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Employers believe what will help fix the U.S. health care system is a focus on wellness programs, evidence-based medicine guidelines, improving quality of care and increasing the ability of patients to be better health care consumers , according to the Health Care Reform Survey conducted by Aon Consulting.

Aon surveyed more than 1,100 U.S.-based employers in June 2009 and found that 58% of employers oppose a public plan option similar to Medicare to compete with employer-based plans as a way to increase the number of Americans with health insurance, according to a press release. In addition, 56% of employers oppose a public plan that would eventually be offered to larger employers through a health insurance exchange.

In regard to the scenario of a government-run public plan having lower provider reimbursement levels and richer benefits than competing group plans, 39% of employers said they would continue group health coverage but re-evaluate sponsorship after one to two years. In the same scenario, another 10% of employers said they would drop sponsorship of group coverage, the press release said.

In addition, the survey found the majority of employers are against the following health care proposals:

  • 63% of organizations oppose an employer mandate, which would require employers to sponsor group health insurance for their employees or pay into a government fund.
  • 76% of employers said changes in Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) preemption — which would limit or prevent multi-state employers from self funding a consistent nationwide health plan — would be a significant development that could lead to a re-examination or likely termination of health coverage options.
  • The majority of employers ranked changing/limiting the tax treatment of group health coverage sponsored by employers as the least preferred way to finance health care reform.

However, 93% of organizations said the most favorable way to increase the number of Americans with health insurance is by continuing the employer-based health care system with a greater focus on wellness, chronic condition management, evidence-based medicine and other innovative approaches.

Employers also believe the most effective ways to lower medical trend is through comprehensive prevention/wellness programs (73%); making consumers more price sensitive and more aware of quality of care data (55%); and limits on malpractice suits for physicians who follow evidence-based medicine guidelines (47%).

Evidence-based medicine guidelines and tools to encourage consumerism also were cited as the top two initiatives to improve the quality of care based on their highest potential impact.

More information on the survey results is at www.aon.com/healthcarereform .