GM inks innovative deal to cut employee health care costs

GM Cuts Different Type of Health-Care Deal

In general, there has been a big growth in large employers taking healthcare into their own hands as a way to take more control over a health system they see as wasteful and inefficient.

General Motors announced Monday that it will offer a new "direct-to-employer" lower-cost health insurance option next year for the almost 24,000 salaried employees and their families who live in southeast MI.

General Motors is the latest in a growing number of employers choosing to contract directly with providers for employee healthcare and eschew the traditional health benefits setup in an attempt to lower costs without sacrificing care quality.

General Motors' new plan, called GM ConnectedCare, will be added as a new option for the company's salaried employees this fall, with service beginning January 1.

The partnership "comes from our ongoing quest to improve employee health, while also seeking to offset rising healthcare costs for both the employee and the company", says Sheila Savageau, GM's US healthcare leader.

The plan will give nearly 24,000 GM salaried employees and their beneficiaries access to over 3,000 providers in seven counties offering primary care, specialty care, behavioral health, emergency care and more.

Other prominent USA companies, like Intel and Boeing, have already begun testing direct health care delivery deals. More recently, Providence St. Joseph ended its participation in Boeing's direct-contract program past year, citing "business" as the reason for the contract termination.

Direct-to-employer health plans tend to appeal to cost-conscious consumers who don't mind going to a single network of doctors, said Marianne Udow-Phillips, executive director of the Center for Healthcare Research and Transformation.

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About 11% of employers said they mean to solidify such broad deals in 2019, according to a 170-employer survey by the National Business Group on Health - up from a mere 3% in last year's poll.

Such plans are less appealing to people who may have complex medical histories and want a wide variety of health care providers.

Henry Ford will help GM enrollees track of their health with regular wellness exams, monitoring chronic conditions, and preventive screenings. If it achieves or exceeds the targets, there would be shared savings between GM and Henry Ford. But, if the six-hospital system's costs are too high, it will credit GM for the unforeseen expenses. By striking a deal directly with the integrated hospital system, the idea is that it will cut costs by allowing the company to negotiate directly with the service provider.

"We are honored that General Motors chose Henry Ford for its first direct contract in southeast Michigan", Henry Ford Health System president and CEO Wright Lassiter said in a statement.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of MI will manage claims-processing and other functions. The insurer will administer ConnectedCare in addition to GM's self-insured health plans.

Tele-Health: Options for employees to interact with doctors by phone, video chat or computer/smartphone app. Appointments with specialists within 10 days.

ConnectedCare will be a five-year contract between GM and the Henry Ford Health System. The plan is not available to GM's unionized workforce, which receives health benefits under a labor agreement.

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