2013 Hawaii Business Top 250: (UHA) University Health Alliance
One of the hot topics among employers these days is the insurance exchange, which will be launched in October. Although it’s just two months away from being implemented, there is still some uncertainty about the responsibilities of employers and whether migrating to the exchange makes sense for them.
While the intent of the exchange is to ensure more people receive coverage as part of the Affordable Care Act, it’s important to note that coverage alone does not guarantee a healthy population.
In Hawaii, more than 90 percent of Island residents have some kind of insurance thanks to the Hawaii Prepaid Health Care Act. However, healthcare costs continue to rise. Why? And what can we do about this as employers?
As a health plan, UHA is doing much more for our members to help them stay healthy. Many of our policies are counter-intuitive to cutting costs. Instead of cutting back on benefits or making eligibility requirements more stringent, we provide more benefits to support long-term health and well-being. Instead of an adversarial relationship with providers and physicians, we collaborate. Instead of shunning at-risk individuals for high utilization of costly services and procedures, we give them special attention and tools to better manage their health.
These approaches to healthcare have always been at the heart of UHA since its inception. Physicians who wanted to improve health care quality in our state formed UHA 17 years ago, and physicians continue to guide the insurance company’s policies and practices to ensure optimal care for our members.
Even before health reform mandated preventive benefits, UHA was at the forefront by offering these benefits at no cost. We continue this win-win approach with extensive wellness programs starting with our own employees. We offer stipends to subsidize employee participation in fitness programs and paid time off for exercise.
UHA also invests in those who are not healthy. Using predictive modeling software, we can identify individuals at risk for diseases such as diabetes. Our physicians and nurses collaborate with their physicians, intervening early to ensure they get the extra medical attention they need.
We make health plans work for our 52,000 members, rather than having members figure out how to make their health plan work for them. We educate members about their benefits, rather than debating why they cannot have a particular service. We believe this level of personalized support is key for health plans in the future.
Health plans must continually develop innovations to support, rather than be an obstacle to, optimal health. This is the only way to ensure we provide our members better health and a better life.
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