Roy Ranthum and I have different political orientations. However, I always appreciate hearing his perspective, especially since he is so tied into the Washington scene and we’re both big proponents of health savings accounts (HSA) and HSA-qualified plans. So I was sobered by his recent article describing how HSA plans in Vermont will be more expensive than other non-HSA-qualified plans.
Add to that the recent exchange between Senator Max Baucus and Secretary Sebelius about mounting problems associated with the implementation of health reform laws and various predictions about health insurance premiums in the future (they are likely to be higher for many Americans) and you might get discouraged about what the Affordable Care Act (ACA) can mean for some businesses. But it isn’t all bad news.
The fact remains that employers are concerned about benefit costs, and they are looking to leverage private exchanges to shift from defined benefits to defined contributions as a way to manage those costs. Even Bruce Broussard, the CEO at Humana, announced that health-care benefits will go the same way as retirement wherein employees will get a set amount of money from their employer and go shopping for insurance.
When you look for innovation in the health industry, look no further than the private sector, and in particular, look at private exchanges. In fact, Al Waxman, health-care investor extraordinaire, says exchanges and the technologies that power them are the type of innovation we’ll see as we enter “a new fertile period for innovative… companies that can navigate the brave new world of healthcare delivery….”
The changes won’t come over night, and as we’ve said before, we need to address costs to deliver on the promise of access for all Americans. Still, it is exciting to be part of this brave new world. And the optimism helps buoy us when we hear concerning news about developments that run counter to the direction we think the industry should be headed.