The Wall Street Journal sponsored an unusually spirited and sophisticated debate (with video) on controlling health care costs on Wednesday, with Business Roundtable-member CEOs providing insights and from their own companies' experiences.
Gary Loveman of Caesars Entertainment, who chairs BRT's Health and Retirement Committee, and Mark T. Bertolini of Aetna highlighted the importance of involving their employees in managing their own health care, often but not exclusively through financial incentives. The importance of technology to reach employees and help them make informed decisions emerged as one theme, with Bertolini noting, " We connect with many of our Medicare members through texting."
Bertolini said the company's overall efforts -- again, involving the employees -- helped Aetna reduce company's health care costs last year by 7.5 percent.
Loveman commented that company wellness programs like Caesars' motivate employees, because they feel they are working with a partner. As a result, they are more productive, but perhaps more importantly, they are also happier.
Also participating in the debate were Ralph de la Torre, MD, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Steward Health Care System LLC, New England's largest fully integrated community care organization, and Ezekiel "Zeke" Emanuel, Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor at University of Pennsylvania and former White House advisor on health care policy. Moderator was WSJ’s health and science bureau chief, Stefanie Ilgenfritz.
The discussion delved deep into critical issues such as Medicare, methods of reimbursement, and the potential impact of the Affordable Care Act. Commenting on payment reform, Bertolini added a sharp note, saying that unless that the United States can restrain the rise in health care costs, it never be able be control its national debt problem.
There's tweeting of the forum at #WSJhealth.