Consumer and Employer Leadership Explored at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont Issues Conference

first_imgConsumer and Employer Leadership Explored atBlue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont Issues ConferenceBurlington, VT — Employee health incentives, better management of chronic illnesses, new provider payment structures, and integration of mental and medical health care were among a variety of strategies proposed Wednesday by a panel of national experts who met in Burlington to discuss ways to improve health care and at the same time hold down health care costs.The experts highlighted a half-day conference held as part of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermonts annual health issues symposium series. Nearly 300 Vermonters attended, including employers, health care providers, legislators and consumers.Keynote speaker Ian Morrison, an internationally known author, consultant and futurist specializing in long-term forecasting and planning, addressed the changing environment surrounding consumer involvement in health care. Morrison explained that information necessary for useful provider quality ratings is inadequate today but will improve dramatically in the next five years. Morrison cited pay for performance as holding great promise as a reimbursement strategy for improving our health care system. Morrison also identified e-business as a key factor in system improvement in the future.Other panelists included Michael Samuelson of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Islands Health and Wellness Initiative, Alex R. Rodriguez, MD, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Magellan Health Services, Sharon Moffat, Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health, and Harvey Yorke, President and CEO of Southwestern Vermont Health Care.Michael Samuelson focused on the role of the individual in partnership with employers, providers and health plans. He effectively used personal experiences to illuminate trends in health care that rely on greater personal involvement.Dr. Rodriguez outlined the role that depression plays in overall heath status, and the importance of mental health care as a priority in any effective health care system.Harvey Yorke described a useful and innovative strategy for employers to emphasize preventive health while simultaneously holding down costs. Yorkes hospital has created and implemented an incentive program for its employees that rewards employees financially for incorporating self-responsibility for practicing healthy behaviors. The incentive, Yorke told conference participants, is to decrease the amount that the employee contributes to the cost of the health insurance premium as the employees level of compliance with health criteria increases.Sharon Moffat concluded the conference agenda with an overview of key initiatives the states health department is pursuing to improve health status. Foremost among those projects is a chronic care initiative underway to reform the way the health care system approaches chronic illness.The program was moderated by WCAX-TV Channel 3 news co-anchor and medical reporter, Sera Congi. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont President and CEO William R. Milnes, Jr. welcomed the conference participants and introduced the program.Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is the state’s oldest and largest private health insurer, providing coverage for about 180,000 Vermonters. It employs over 350 Vermonters at its headquarters in Berlin and branch office in Williston, and offers group and individual health plans to Vermonters. More information about Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is available on the Internet at www.bcbsvt.com(link is external). Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont is an independent corporation operating under a license with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans.(End)last_img read more