Academic Medicine

Skip Navigation LinksHome > March 2013 - Volume 88 - Issue 3 > Employee Health Benefit Redesign at the Academic Health Cent...
Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318281a71c

Employee Health Benefit Redesign at the Academic Health Center: A Case Study

Marshall, Julie; Weaver, Deirdre C.; Splaine, Kevin; Hefner, David S. MPA; Kirch, Darrell G. MD; Paz, Harold L. MD, MS

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The rapidly escalating cost of health care, including the cost of providing health care benefits, is a significant concern for many employers. In this article, the authors examine a case study of an academic health center that undertook a complete redesign of its health benefit structure to control rising costs, encourage use of its own provider network, and support employee wellness. With the implementation in 2006 of a high-deductible health plan combined with health reimbursement arrangements and wellness incentives, the Penn State Hershey Medical Center (PSHMC) was able to realize significant cost savings and increase use of its own network while maintaining a high level of employee satisfaction. By contracting with a single third-party administrator for its self-insured plan, PSHMC reduced its administrative costs and simplified benefit choices for employees. In addition, indexing employee costs to salary ensured that this change was equitable for all employees, and the shift to a consumer-driven health plan led to greater employee awareness of health care costs. The new health benefit plan’s strong focus on employee wellness and preventive health has led to significant increases in the use of preventive health services, including health risk assessments, cancer screenings, and flu shots. PSHMC’s experience demonstrates the importance of clear and ongoing communication with employees throughout—before, during, and even after—the process of health benefit redesign.

© 2013 by the Association of American Medical Colleges


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