Cracking the Cost Code Through Value

As health care costs increase, employers look to improve the overall value of their investment by improving the quality of care, ensuring a positive patient experience and improving health outcomes.


May 21, 2024

Health care costs continue to increase year over year, prompting employers to examine their investment in health care in the context of improving overall value, defined as quality care, positive patient experience and improved health outcomes. As the amount of data and the capability to analyze it grows, employers and their partners seek to identify opportunities to increase value and improve the impact of their health and well-being offerings. But this can be easier said than done. While it has become easier to measure provider quality, it can still be hard to access the data and determine consistent ways to measure if the desired outcomes are being achieved. Obtaining the correct data is one of several obstacles that employers face in demonstrating how programs create value for employees and the organization. At this year’s annual conference, employers heard from industry experts and their peers about viable approaches to increase value. Read on for actionable ideas.

How Employers Are Driving Value

  • Focusing on advocacy, access and affordability: Viewing health benefits as an investment in their workforce’s overall health and well-being, leading employers are applying multipronged approaches to their health care strategies, including focusing on advocacy, access and affordability. While being mindful of overall cost to the organization, employers are also concerned about affordability of benefits, especially out-of-pocket costs for members, as well as access-to-care issues resulting from provider shortages. Employers are using high-touch support services to help navigate employees to appropriate resources, ensure access to a variety of programs and assist employees in finding the most affordable care option. In addition, these resources can assist with previously unmet member needs beyond health care alone, thus driving better engagement and outcomes.
  • Leveraging Centers of Excellence: Many employers are expanding the use of Centers of Excellence to deliver quality care. For employers with geographically dispersed workforces, some are partnering with vendors who identify high-quality providers in communities across the country, reducing the need for travel. Others provide relevant travel benefits so that employees and their families can receive care without worrying about travel costs.
  • Implementing value-based primary care: Employers are increasing the role of primary care in the health care system by offering value-based primary care programs. Using plan design incentives and a variety of communication methods, employers are driving employees and their families to both virtual and traditional community-based, value-based primary care providers. These efforts drive both high-quality care and a positive health care experience. Employers are also beginning to explore examples of high-value care across the U.S. and around the world.

Strategies Employers Can Use to Drive Value

  • Increase the role of primary care: Look for opportunities to connect employees to primary care anywhere you can. Navigation and engagement programs, for example, can improve primary care utilization; simple strategies include constant reminders about the importance of prevention and visiting primary care providers regularly, as well as ensuring that customer service reps remind members to talk to their primary care providers about their concerns, can translate into increased visits.
  • Evaluate partnerships: Review vendor and provider partnerships for opportunities to simplify contracting and reimbursement structures so that providers can be rewarded for improving health and managing costs. Consider the role of integrated data as an enabler of measuring specific vendor performance.
  • Consider the employee experience: Evaluate benefits in the context of the overall employee experience. Identify those in need of services through unique outreach activities and offer a variety of ways to engage with programs and providers, understanding that specific member segments may have unique needs and preferences.

Relevant Resources

2025 AC Save the date

2024 Annual Conference Insights: Cracking the Cost Code Through Value

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