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Does Health Care Have To Cost So Much?

As a former city manager in Michigan I searched every year for the best health coverage package for my employees at the best pricing. What made it so difficult were the very specific employee requests submitted each year. Coverage for items such as smoking cessation, chiropractic services, $3 or $5 or $10 prescription drug cards and other items sent monthly premiums per employee beyond $1,000 per month or $12,000 per year.

Now all of these things are nice to have and insurance companies will include them in coverage for a premium price. All too often such coverage requests covered only one or two employees, yet the pricing was based on availability to all. If only one or two of 25 employees smoked and wanted to quit, the premium cost was based on all 25 having the benefit and 22 of them did not need it! Another example involved a birth control benefit where only 1 of 13 employees was of child bearing age. The other 12 all had grown children and for various reasons had no need for birth control. The stories go on and on. It has been estimated that more than 50% of the cost of an employee will come from benefits costs by the year 2015. So where do we go from here?

Consumer driven health care is beginning to get more popular and it can provide effective health care coverage for households that are un-insured or under insured. This is welcome information in light of the fact that so many employers have already, or soon will, drop health care or require significantly increased employee participation in premium costs. Please take note that consumer driven health care is not insurance. It is a health care program currently used by over one million people that provides savings at the point of service. It is a program that, while not all inclusive, can be reasonably tailored to individual or household needs. Physician office visits, lab work, dental care, vision care, prescription drug discounts and chiropractic care are available at significant savings when paid for at the point of service. Other programs including hospital advocacy and other services are available as well. Consumer driven health care just might be the answer for the millions who are un-insured or underinsured.