All over the country, innovative ideas are being implemented in the workplace to improve the health of workers and reduce the rising rate of health care spending. Skyrocketing health care costs are crushing families and companies, impeding businesses’ ability to expand and compete, and stunting the country’s economic growth. Some employers and unions – spanning industries, firm size, and workforce demographics – are using creative approaches to reverse that trend in their workplaces.
Examples of innovative health care programs in the workplace are everywhere. As a result of many successful programs at businesses across the country, workers have become more engaged in their own health care, productivity is increasing, absenteeism is dropping, and employers are passing some of their health care savings to their workers. Employers are discovering that improving quality of care can reduce health care costs. Small actions in the workplace can generate large benefits.
Today, the President will meet with some employers and unions whose innovations have produced promising results. He will hear firsthand about the best practices that are spreading in workplaces around America. Many in this group have reduced disease risk factors; several have onsite clinics; and all have programs to reduce obesity and improve activity levels. And the President will direct the Office of Personnel Management to work with the Office of Health Reform, the National Economic Council, the Department of Labor, and the Office of Management and Budget to examine successful employer wellness and prevention practices that lower health care costs and improve employees’ health and to explore the feasibility of developing such a plan for federal employees and their workplaces.
The President hopes that by encouraging more employers to adopt similar programs, we can improve the productivity of our workforce, delay or avoid many of the complications of chronic diseases, and slow medical cost growth.
Below is a list of the workforce innovators who will meet with the President to discuss their best practices today.
H.E.R.E.I.U. Welfare Fund (Dr. Jerry Reeves, Chief Medical Officer): The Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (H.E.R.E.I.U.) Welfare Fund offers multi-employer health insurance coverage for 90,000 eligible employees and their family members. It redesigned its health benefits and health plan administration and implemented wellness and chronic disease management programs to generate millions of dollars in overall savings. The H.E.R.E.I.U. Welfare Fund has also aligned incentives with desired behaviors by informing patients which physicians were high-performing, providing performance bonuses to high-performing doctors, and giving pregnant patients incentives to receive prenatal care. These initiatives have effectively engaged workers to improve their health through widespread use of employee risk assessments, risk-based interventions, and behavior change programs. The H.E.RE.I.U. Welfare Fund also has worksite pharmacies that give out free generic drugs for chronic conditions and provide special care centers for workers and family members who have high cost and complex chronic conditions.