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For Immediate Release
Contact: Matt Cookson, 603-767-1247
Employees Across USNH Using New Tools to Reduce Healthcare Expenses
MAY 29, 2012 – LEE, NH – Through a partnership with Tandem Care, employees across the University System of New Hampshire (USNH) are finding savings for many health-related care and are receiving rewards when they take advantage of lower cost care. While the service was rolled out at the beginning of 2012, about 100 employees are using it on a monthly basis and as awareness increases, usage continues to grow.
Depending on the type of healthcare facility used, costs can vary significantly. For example, one USNH employee reported saving $1,700 on a CT Scan, resulting in a $200 reward to the employee.
Healthcare costs across the University System are estimated at about $66 million for 2012. They represent one of the largest annual expenditures and the continuing escalation of these costs creates challenges, given the limited financial resources available to USNH. Employees across the four USNH institutions are insured as a single group to help create efficiencies in expenses and operations. USNH has developed several initiatives to help employees better understand the value of wellness programs and the correlation between how they use their benefits and the impact it has on healthcare costs. The Tandem partnership is one example of this effort.
USNH switched to self insurance in 2012 as another way to help reduce healthcare costs. This means that USNH pays medical claims for its employees rather than a premium to the insurance company, saving administrative expenses. However, medical claims are still processed through Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare. Tandem Health Advantage is a program that USNH employees and their dependents can use to receive cash rewards by using Tandem to assist them in “shopping” for the same service at a lower cost provider. This can be complicated, and Tandem is there to help.
When an employee calls Tandem, a nurse helps the employee compare the cost and quality of local contracted Harvard Pilgrim providers. If an employee chooses a lower cost provider, Tandem will help reschedule the appointment and makes sure the records and results are sent back to the ordering physician. The employee will receive a reward between $40 and $200 depending on the amount that was saved on the procedure.
“Healthcare consumers want to do the right thing, but often do not have the proper tools and information at their disposal. At Tandem, we help them make informed decisions and provide the professional support so they don’t have to deal with the red tape,” said Eve Oyer, president of benefits management at Tandem.
“Usually, my husband and I have our annual blood tests done at our local hospital. After calling Tandem care, we chose to take the time to go to a lower-cost lab in another town. Not only were the fees significantly less, something we feel would be helpful in the age of rising health costs, we were very pleased to find that we each received a sizable reward,” said Melody and Joel Funk, employees of Plymouth State University.
Additional efforts are underway at the campuses to promote this partnership. For example, USNH Director of Health Care Cost Containment Amy Schwartz conducts webinars, holds meetings on the subject, and regularly disseminates information via e-mail.
“We are really trying to get people to think differently about healthcare and understand that usage and cost of services directly impacts the cost of providing medical benefits to employees. When thinking about ‘total compensation,’ our medical benefits represent a larger and larger component of our USNH compensation. When people take charge of their own health and service consumption through wellness programs or through services such as Tandem, they can lead healthier lives, receive more cost effective services and help to bring down the cost of health care for all. This means there may be more resources for other programs such as wage increases, or offsetting contributions to medical benefits. But it takes everyone’s participation and every procedure counts,” she said.