Healthcare costs continue to rise, even as more and more data is available. Consumers and providers who are able to recognize trends in the data and implement changes in behavior have an opportunity to limit the inflation.

Organizations that are not proactive are at risk, because the overall health of the American workforce is declining as sharply as healthcare costs are rising.

That was one of the key takeaways from a recent seminar co-hosted by Barnes Dennig and USI Insurance. Craig Osterhues, an executive on loan to the Greater Cincinnati healthcare community, explained how and why costs have risen so dramatically, and he described ways that healthcare providers, employers and employees can bend that trend. Five local business leaders then discussed initiatives that have helped manage their companies’ healthcare costs.

 “If we don’t get healthcare figured out, it’s going to kill the economic engine of any given region,” Osterhues said. “We’re kind of at that tipping point. … It is becoming unsustainable. The alarm bells are going off across the country. It’s a big deal, not just for employers, but for communities.”

Osterhues has been working with local government, corporate and healthcare leaders on ways to improve health, improve care and lower costs in Greater Cincinnati, and he outlined steps they are taking to do so:

  • Increase and improve the primary care that is available to consumers.
  • Healthcare providers collect and share better data, eliminating wasted time and effort.
  • Consumers become more engaged in the process, understanding the costs, risks and rewards of their behavior.

“Hopefully the work we’re doing with the broader stakeholder group is laying the groundwork for you guys,” Osterhues said.

The panelists – two from companies with more than 100 employees, three from companies with fewer than 100 – discussed strategies that helped them control costs. Among the ideas they suggested were:

  • Take on some risk in exchange for lower costs.
  • Understand your true cost drivers and closely manage the enrollment process.
  • Whenever possible, negotiate with insurance brokers and healthcare providers for discounts.
  • Educate employees and incentivize them to make healthier and cost-efficient choices.

Click here for more details on the panel discussion.

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