GM Employees Get 'Direct' Care in New Health Care Health Program

Seniors swap hospital visits for iPads

The companies said the plan, called GM ConnectedCare, will save employees anywhere from $300 to $900 in annual payroll contributions compared to GM's current cheapest plan and will be available to almost 24,000 GM employees in southeast MI.

For eligible employees who opt in to the plan, ConnectedCare is expected to shave anywhere from $300 to $900 off their costs annually, when compared to the cheapest option now offered. As part of the agreement, the Detroit, Michigan-based system will deliver healthcare management and wellness services to GM employees and their families in southeastern Michigan.

ConnectedCare will be offered to salaried GM employees who live in the seven counties where the health system has a concentration of clinics, hospitals and more than 3,000 doctors: Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, Livingston, Lapeer and St. Clair. As the Detroit Free Press reported, the plan would cost employees $300 to $900 less in annual payroll contributions than the automaker's cheapest plan but would require them to get all of their care through Henry Ford Health System to get in-network rates.

Although Walmart crafted limited deals with hospital systems for specific procedures, namely spinal surgeries, the latter four companies are having their healthcare providers manage nearly all of their enrolled employees' care. More recently, Providence St. Joseph ended its participation in Boeing's direct-contract program a year ago, citing "business" as the reason for the contract termination.

GM has seen its total health care costs grow about 3 percent to 4 percent a year in recent years, said Sheila Savageau, the automaker's US health care leader.

Employers who enter into a direct contract with a healthcare provider need expertise and bandwidth, "a luxury that not many have", adds Suzanne Delbanco, executive director of the Catalyst for Payment Reform, an employer-led health care think tank and advocacy group.

Henry Ford will help GM enrollees track of their health with regular wellness exams, monitoring chronic conditions, and preventive screenings.

The hospital system will have cost targets for keeping GM's workforce healthy. If it achieves or exceeds the cost objectives, GM and the provider will share the savings. But if costs run too high, the hospital system would credit GM for the unforeseen expenses the company paid from its insurance money pool.

"These tools, along with the collaborative network of physicians that we've assembled, have enabled us to make an immediate and positive impact on our patients", says Bruce Muma, chief medical officer and interim president and CEO, Henry Ford Physician Network.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of MI will manage claims-processing and other functions.

Tele-Health: Options for employees to interact with doctors by phone, video chat or computer/smartphone app. Participants will have access to same-day or next-day appointments with a primary care physician and the ability to see a specialist within 10 business days.

The ultimate goal of the multi-year contract is to decrease costs and improve the health of ConnectedCare members.

Though the cost and quality benefits of such arrangements may sound tempting to employers, the contracts are typically complicated to administer and generally work only if an employer has a sizable employee base in one region, experts warn.

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