Report: Wellness programs, containment cut health care costs
California, North Carolina and Ohio rely on a combination of wellness programs and cost containment to rein in health insurance cost increases, according to a new issue brief from the Washington-based Center for State and Local Government Excellence (CSLGE). CSLGE’s “Health Insurance for Active and Retired State Employees: California, North Carolina, and Ohio” brief, released Wednesday, analyzes the cost of providing health insurance, along with changes in health plans the three states have adopted to slow cost increases.
For example, California’s Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS), begun in 2004, includes measures to contain costs and improve health outcomes, including promoting hospital performance transparency and managing hospital costs, according to the CSLGE brief. The state’s California WorksWell Health Promotion Program also promotes wellness among state employees through reduced membership rates at more than 2,200 health clubs throughout the state; discounts for weight loss programs; and online resources for disease prevention and creating a healthy lifestyle.
North Carolina’s State Health Plan of North Carolina (SHP) has evolved from a traditional fee-for-service or indemnity plan to offering a choice of various types of HMO and PPO managed care plans. In an effort to slow the rise of the cost of the SHP, the state’s legislature also instituted a series of wellness programs to help employees quit smoking, start exercising and reduce their weight.
Ohio introduced wellness programs to improve health and reduce plan costs. Its “Stay Healthy, Save Money” plan offers preventive care with no deductible, co-payment or co-insurance. Employees and their spouses can earn incentives for participating in the program. Retirees also earn incentives by choosing a less expensive medical plan, and taking advantage of health management wellness and preventive care programs.
The brief considers the history and current status of health insurance plans for public employees and retirees in the three states. It reports the actual and projected costs of health insurance, and examines the policy implications of the annual cost of health insurance and what changes the states have made in response to rising costs.