NEWS BRIEFS

Survey: Employees have no choice of health plans

The vast majority of U.S. workers are not offered a choice of health plans, and are provided no information to help evaluate the quality of the care they receive. That’s the conclusion of a new survey of 21,000 employees conducted by RAND and Research Triangle Institute as part of Washington, DC-based Center for Studying Health System Change’s (HSC) Community Tracking Study.

However, the news is not all bad, notes Paul B. Ginsburg, president of HSC. "Although most employees are not given a choice of health plans, many workers now have more choices of physicians than they did in the recent past. It’s important to recognize that employers have responded to consumer demands for choice, at least in part by expanding hospital and physician networks."

Specifically, the survey found that only 17% of private employers that offer insurance to employees provide a choice among plans. For more information, contact: Ann Greiner, Center for Studying Health System Change, 600 Maryland Avenue S.W. Suite 550, Washington, DC 20024-2512. Telephone: (202) 484-3475. Fax: (202) 484-9258. Web site: www.hschange.com.


Consumers rarely have choice of health plans

Managed competition, in which health plans compete in a consumer-based marketplace on both cost and quality, is still just a dream. Only 17% of private employers that offer insurance to employees provide a choice of plans, according to a report of the Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington, DC.

Even when employers offered alternatives, only 27% provided financial incentives for employees to choose the lower-priced plans, the report says. Few provided quality information on the health plans. Only 22% of the largest employers provided comparative data.

The Center for Studying Health System Change is an independent research organization funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The survey of 21,000 employers was conducted by RAND in Santa Monica, CA, and Research Triangle Institute in Research Triangle Park, NC.


Employers, employees share wellness goals

At a recent roundtable discussion hosted by Employee Benefit News, attendees were told that achieving optimal employee productivity is a shared responsibility between employers and employees. Speakers included experts from the fields of indoor air quality, workplace design, and medicine.

Workplace environment, sleep and health management were identified as key enabling factors for employee productivity. Panelists discussed the risks to companies that allow a poor workplace environment, and highlighted allergies as an example of an environment-related health condition that can significantly impact employee productivity.

"The next trend for corporate America will be creating work environments that enhance employee performance, rather than the current situation, in which work environments often disable performance," said David Albertson, editor of Employee Benefit News.

For more information, contact: Joseph LoBello, Employee Benefit News, 1290 Avenue of the Americas, 36th Floor, New York, NY 10104. Telephone: (212) 333-9419.


PCS, CIGNA in managed indemnity pact

PCS Health Systems, Inc., Scottsdale, AZ-based subsidiary of Eli Lilly and Company, has been selected by Bloomfield, CN-based CIGNA HealthCare to provide managed pharmaceutical services to the 2 million individuals enrolled in CIGNA indemnity plans.

"This program represents an important enhancement to our indemnity product offering and presents an attractive savings opportunity for our indemnity policyholders and participants," said Ben Robinson, CIGNA pharmacy product manager.

For more information, contact: Bettylu Smith, PCS Health Systems, Inc., 9501 East Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ 85260-6719. Telephone: (602) 661-3694. Fax: (602) 314-8110. E-mail: bettylu.smith@pcsmail.pcsh.com.