What's The Problem?
First, it would be wise to discuss some of the problems that are leading large companies like Amazon and Comcast to eschew much of the conventional wisdom about health insurance. It's no secret that the cost of healthcare is rising. Drug costs are skyrocketing. The Affordable Care Act is on shaky ground (whether they like the ACA itself or not, businesses prefer predictability). The future of the healthcare industry seems pretty bleak, at the moment.
This leaves businesses walking a tightrope. You need to keep costs in check, but how? You could pass the cost on to your employees with high-deductible plans, but since health insurance is so important in attracting and retaining employees — especially employees looking for jobs in highly competitive industries — that isn't a great option.
What Is Comcast Doing About It?
Comcast isn't exactly known for being consumer-friendly, but some of the actions regarding healthcare recently have been getting applause from people concerned about the rising costs of insurance. Where other companies are raising deductibles, Comcast has cut theirs to $250 for almost all their employees. Considering the average is $1,500, this is a pretty big deal.
They are also tackling issues in healthcare on other fronts as well. They believe that a lack of understanding is one driver of increasing healthcare costs. Employees who don't understand their insurance are more likely to misuse it or not use it when they really should. In order to combat this, Comcast has been partnering with many healthcare startups. Accolade is one of the startups that Comcast is invested in. Accolade is a company that provides independent guides that help employees understand their health insurance. Other partners include Grand Rounds and telehealth company Doctor on Demand.
So, essentially these big businesses are attempting to disrupt the healthcare market by investing in new startups and negotiating directly with providers. Insurance companies have long been thought of as a necessary middleman, but the tide seems to be slowly changing. If the actions of Amazon and Comcast prove fruitful you can expect to see others follow suit.
What About Amazon?
Amazon has also been in the news recently for their attempts to disrupt the healthcare industry. In fact, healthcare executives have chosen Amazon as "the most likely industry disruptor". So, what exactly have they done to earn this great honor? Well, they have plans to build primary care clinics for their Seattle employees for starters. And back in January, they made an announcement that really shook things up. They announced a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan to create a nonprofit healthcare company focused on reducing costs and increasing consumer satisfaction.
So, both Amazon and Comcast are shaking the healthcare industry up big time, but what does that mean for you? These big ideas take time to trickle down to smaller businesses, but there are still a number of things that you could be doing to control your healthcare spending right now.
At Summerlin-Roberts we leverage our expertise in cost containment to come up with creative solutions for businesses that need to cut costs without cutting benefits. For more information about providing affordable health insurance that is satisfying to employees, please, contact us today.