All of us at The Dow Chemical Company recognize that our performance, our success and the true potential of our Human Element can only be unleashed when our people are as healthy as possible. Therefore, we view health spending as an investment to be optimized, rather than a cost to be minimized.
To achieve this optimization, much work remains. Today’s health care costs are undermining the competitiveness of corporations like Dow, particularly in the United States, while reducing the disposable income of consumers as costs are passed along to them. The increasing percentage of GDP consumed by health care dominates federal and state budget deficits and causes serious social capital erosion, draining funds away from other priorities such as education without improving health outcomes. This unsustainable approach poses a serious problem for individuals and companies alike. A better future will require new government policies as well as collaborative action at the intersection of government, business and civil society.
Dow has been active at this intersection for quite some time, and in 2004, we elevated our long-standing health efforts to a corporate-level health strategy with designated executive sponsors. Our goals were improved patient outcomes, enhanced quality and effectiveness of care, reduced waste, and better value for every dollar spent. Based on these drivers, we developed a multifaceted approach to:
1. Enable individuals to take responsibility for their health: Dow has a comprehensive health promotion system with a wide range of initiatives from onsite fitness centers to healthy food choices in company cafeterias.
2. Provide resources to help employees make informed health care decisions: Online tools help our employees identify the highest quality hospitals and specialists, the cost for virtually any medical service prior to receiving care, and the best value for purchasing medications.
3. Focus on health outcomes versus strictly cost control: Dow was a founding member of the Catalyst for Payment Reform, a national group whose only goal is to reform the way health care is reimbursed — from a unit-based methodology to paying for quality care.
4. Promote a healthy culture and environment: Our Healthy Workplace Index assigns individual scores for key culture and environmental elements and a cumulative score (bronze, silver, gold or platinum) for each worksite. By year end 2013, approximately 55 percent of global employees were located at sites that had reached the silver, gold or platinum level.
Years later, we are seeing the benefits of a strategy built on the fundamental principle that health is a shared responsibility between individuals, worksites and Dow. Dow’s medical spend trend is well below peer company averages. The percent of employees at high risk across key health risk measures has significantly decreased from the baseline, and the percent of employees at low risk has significantly increased.
By focusing on our health opportunity, Dow has simultaneously improved outcomes and affordability. An integrated health strategy, comprehensive health programs, and two decades of sustained commitment and culture change have set in motion a positive trend that continues today.