Dr Bruce Sherman Outlines Successful Employer Strategies for Containing Healthcare Costs

An array of different techniques, including direct primary care, are being used by employers to manage healthcare costs while keeping care affordable for employees, according to Bruce Sherman, MD, chief medical officer of the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions.

What are some techniques that employers have used successfully in managing healthcare costs?
I think we are seeing an array of different techniques in place that employers have used for managing healthcare costs. Again, in reference to your earlier question, cost versus value, this is the dilemma. I think because many of the delivery systems aren’t yet ready to move forward with value-based or risk-based contracts, employers are looking to third parties to provide those services, so direct or advanced primary care is probably one of the longest-established opportunities in the marketplace for value-based contracting and also for employers to manage cost.

I think we have, from the employer perspective, pushed the envelope as far as we can with respect to benefit design because we’re now dealing with affordability issues for many employees, so I think the pendulum is swinging away from high-deductible health plans back toward more thoughtful, more structured benefit designs that allow people to get basic core services that they need and that are evidence-based. I think we’re going to see more contracting directly with accountable care organizations, again potentially disintermediating health plans, as another way to more effectively align employer purchasing of value with the entities that are providing those services.
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