Engineering Inc. - March/April 2007 - (Page 44)

GUES T G U E ST OPINION COLUMN HEALTHCARE HELPING FIRMS MANAGE HEALTHCARE COSTS THROUGH HEALTHBRIDGE By Patrick E. Feyen HealthBridge is the newest offering from the ACEC Life/Health Trust How can your engineering firm best provide the health insurance benefits your employees desire while keeping expenses manageable? That’s one of the most important issues owners face, and one the ACEC Life/Health Trust actively addresses. The impact of healthcare costs on corporate earnings is a huge concern for U.S. businesses. In 2003, the pretax impact on earnings per share was 17 cents. In 2007, that impact is predicted to be 27 cents. The ACEC Life/Health Trust offers engineering firms a distinct, competitive advantage by leveraging the buying power of more than 1,700 firms and 40,000 members. In addition, there is much that individual firms can do to manage the everincreasing cost of health insurance. A proven approach is the engagement of your associates in the financing and use of healthcare services and the pursuit of wellness. The Trust has made major strides in assisting member firms with this effort, including the introduction of Health Savings Account (HSA)-qualified high-deductible health plans in 2004 and 2006, and the introduction of Patrick E. Feyen HealthBridge in 2007. An HSA combines a qualified high-deductible insurance plan with a tax-advantaged medical savings account. Savings can accrue for a number of reasons. The high deductible can reduce premiums. Money in the savings account— funded with pretax dollars—can be used toward out-of-pocket medical expenses, and unused funds roll over and accumulate year to year. Plan sponsors around the country are increasingly confident that HSAs and other consumer-driven plans can help drive behavior change by exposing participants to the true cost of care and providing more control and incentive to make wise decisions. An integral part of making wise healthcare choices is being informed. The Trust believes accessible, actionable health and wellness information, paired with personal financial choice, will facilitate effective outcomes. On January 1, the Trust began offering members with medical coverage access to this kind of information through HealthBridge. Provided at no additional cost, HealthBridge offers programs that educate and inform while encouraging behavior that improves health and reduces expenses. 44 ENGINEERING INC. MARCH / APRIL 2007 The HealthBridge Wellness Assessment, for example, allows users to input health and lifestyle information and receive feedback on health risks and suggestions on improving their health outlook. Online wellness coaching is offered to empower individuals to make changes toward a healthier lifestyle. Chronic conditions can be a major drain on your insurance program and typically account for more than 70 percent of healthcare costs. An effective disease-management program can save money and improve the quality of life and productivity of participants. HealthBridge Condition Management helps individuals manage the chronic conditions of asthma, coronary artery disease, congestive heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes. A registered nurse guides and supports condition management, while health professionals are available to answer more complex medical questions. We believe that the three keys to an effective wellness program are a well-planned strategy, effective communication and meaningful incentives. By creating a customized incentive package that engages your employees in managing the cost of care, while investing in wellness, healthy lifestyles and early detection initiatives, a positive impact can be made on the overall health of your total population. What kind of results can you expect by engaging your employees in healthcare decisions? Results will vary by firm, of course, but trends have begun to emerge in the consumerdriven arena. These trends include an increase in the use of preventive care; a greater use of nurse help lines; a decrease in nonemergency ER visits; a higher use of preferred, in-network professionals; and an increase in choosing generic prescription drugs—all behaviors that result in lower costs. Although the management of healthcare costs always will be a driving influence and primary objective for the Trust, we remain committed to improving the health and wellness of everyone in your company. We welcome the opportunity to work with you and your employees to achieve these critical, imperative objectives, and we look forward to earning your trust year after year. ■ Patrick E. Feyen is president of the ACEC Life/Health Trust.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Engineering Inc. - March/April 2007

From ACEC to You
News & Notes
Legislative Action
Market Watch
Cover Story: Alternative Energy
The Greening of Wal-Mart
Re-Energizing the Industry
The BIM Boom
Help Wanted: Leaders for Tomorrow
The Path of Perseverance
ACEC/PAC Achieves Record Fundraising Year
ACEC Annual Convention
Helping Firms Manage Healthcare Costs
Facilities Management for A/E Firms
Business Insights
Members In The News
One on One

Engineering Inc. - March/April 2007