Health Care Employers Weigh in on Health Care Reform

August 11, 2011 ( – A recent study reported that while costs are expected to rise significantly with health care reform, they should be balanced with increased access to care. 

Buck Consultants has released its Health Care Reform Readiness survey, which indicates that while employer health plans and the hospital system itself will experience challenges, patients can anticipate the most benefits from the impending changes. According to the announcement, a renewed focus on organizational efficiencies should improve the quality of patient care.  

Among the survey’s key findings were:  

  • The majority of health care industry experts (75%) believe health care costs will increase as a result of reform, with 43% indicating they expect a significant increase; 
  • More than 90% of respondents plan to offset some or all of these additional costs by passing them on to their employees either through higher employee contributions or reduced coverage; 
  • Nearly half (48%) of employers hope to facilitate improvements in employee
health by increasing their wellness initiatives, and virtually none of 
the respondents expect to reduce wellness programs; 
  • Most employers (57%) claimed that they would not consider dropping their coverage in response to the reform, but 28% would consider eliminating healthcare benefits; 
  • 46% of those who said they would not reduce their coverage cited concerns of appearing uncompetitive in hiring and retaining their workforce as their main reasons. 


“Health care employers especially should be on the forefront of this changing health care delivery market to reinforce new and emerging strategies and manage costs,” said Sheryl Grey, a principal with Buck Consultants, in a press release. 

Most health care organizations reported either currently implementing or planning future change to improve their efficiency and quality of care within the next three years. 

Respondents to the survey listed their top courses of action:   

  • Placing a greater focus on cooperation and collaboration around patient care (84%)

  • Taking steps to reduce patient readmissions (74%)

  • Using electronic health records (85%) 
  • Using evidence-based or predictive-modeling technology tools (66

  • Creating an Accountable Care Organization (43%)



"Implementing plan changes aligned with quality and wellness initiatives, and the use of telemedicine, social media and smart phones allow employers to improve care,” Grey commented. 

 The survey also found that most health care organizations are planning to make organizational changes, create new management and leadership initiatives, and focus on
 efficiency and quality efforts in response to reform.


The most common planned changes for the next three years include: 


  • Assessing IT requirements (82%)

  • Structuring quality measures with their physicians (69%)

  • Developing an integrated network (60%)

  • Developing medical home services (41%)



The Health Care Reform Readiness survey included more than 200 professionals in U.S. health care organizations.  


-Sara Kelly