Back to Basics

Healthcare is complicated. Possibly the most under understated comment in history. Health insurance is required. The ACA tells employers they must offer health insurance to their employees. Further, if companies want to be able to attract and retain top talent, they must offer competitive plans.

Healthcare is expensive. For most companies, it is a top 2-3 line item in their budget… and rising.

The healthcare market is being flooded right now with new solutions – all promising some kind of savings to employers. The overarching challenge – healthcare costs continue to rise. In an effort to control costs, employers are willing to do just about anything. High-deductible health plans have been increasing in popularity. More recently, employers seem to have readjusted back from offering the broadest plans possible to plans with narrow networks and watered down benefits. The cost burden continues to shift towards employees.

Lately the trend is to throw as many solutions at the problem as possible. As a health insurance broker, I saw everything from employers offering snacks & ping pong, to wellness apps, to paying for weddings and even employers bringing puppies into the office… There is always a chain reaction justification for these programs: increased wellness/well-being + reduced stress + more benefits + more perks = happier more productive employees and (ultimately) lower medical costs. As a consistent top line item in their budget, employers are literally willing to throw anything at the problem if they can justify it as a potential savings mechanism.

Almost 30 years ago, Phil Jackson (re) introduced the famed triangle offense to the Bulls. Jackson rode this offense to 11 NBA titles in 22 years (yes it helps to have Jordan, Kobe, and Shaq). The real beauty of the triangle offense, however, was that it took something that was very complex (an NBA offensive strategy) and focused on the fundamental basics of strategy. No playbook needed. Simply execute on a very clear strategy that makes it almost impossible for the defense to stop you. The results speak for themselves.

My take? We’ve gotten away from the basics with health plan strategy. According to online password manager, Dashlane, the average consumer has over 130 logins attached to their email. With benefits alone, employees typically have multiple portals/apps for each carrier, HRIS systems, BenAdmin systems, payroll systems, and any variety of other consumer products offered through their employer designed to improve the benefits offering and, in turn, potentially lower overall health claims cost.

Employers can impact their cost by paying attention to the data and focusing their efforts on areas that they can control. For example, according to Cigna, the average cost of a visit to the ER is $1,600 more than urgent care. What’s worse, the wait times are almost triple and 71% of ER visits are unnecessary. By providing employees the right tool to understand their plan and options, self-insured employers stand to gain large ROI by driving proper engagement with the health system.

25% of American’s have a behavioral health condition. The impact is felt all over for employers. It can be seen in their claims & prescription drug data and has a tremendous impact on lost productivity. It is important to identify behavioral health conditions early and often and then guide employees to the right care. The challenges:

  1. Health insurance & health care are complicated
  2. Behavioral health is deeply personal
  3. Tools to help are only effective if they’re used

At TouchCare, we know that using data to create targeted strategies that are impactful to your overall health care costs. As the first layer of support for your employees, we’re also able to aid in the efficacy of your other programs by triaging employees to the right program based on their needs.


Rob LaHayne is the CEO of TouchCare – your Expert Health Assistant. He is a healthcare industry veteran who believes that #realreform comes from a healthier understanding of healthcare. Rob and his family live in New York City.