Diane Hess.j26.jpg

Diane Hess is executive director of the Central Penn Business Group on Health, an affiliate of the Lancaster Chamber. 

Collaboration is when two or more people or organizations work together to realize or achieve something successfully.

We have many examples of successful collaborations in our community, and today, I am excited to share a new opportunity to employers in our region who self-fund their health care benefits.

This opportunity will give area employers the insights they need to make educated decisions about the plans they offer while also supporting the broader community through data aggregation and analysis.

As an independent resource to employers and health care stakeholders, the Central Penn Business Group on Health believes we are best positioned to aggregate health care data and disseminate it for the region.

To that end, in 2016 we formed a partnership with Innovu, a Pittsburgh-based data analytics company. We did this because we wanted a partner that could provide us with the information we needed while also providing value to the employers supporting our organization.

Better together

Our decision to partner with Innovu was only partly based on its ability to deliver a robust analytics program that can provide employers with insights into their cost drivers, act as a check on their enrollment and administrative processes and benchmark their plan against others offered in the region.

But the Innovu platform also can provide insights into trends in our market, costs in our region and opportunities to do things better without reducing care or benefits.

Today, we have approximately 25,000 covered lives from 27 employers on the platform.

But for the region’s health care data to be considered credible, we need to have about 100,000 covered lives supporting the analytics. We want to reach that goal by the end of calendar year 2018 so we can begin to share data and the insights it provides.

Better data, better decisions

As owners of their claims data, self-funded employers can support this initiative in a variety of ways.

The first is to become a data contributor. With the proper agreements in place, employers can have their health care data easily loaded on to the Innovu platform. In exchange, all data contributors will receive a free benchmark report.

Employers and consultants also can make the choice to purchase access to the platform directly to be able to take a deeper dive into the data to understand their own situation.

Insight needed into rising costs

The need for this kind of resource and analysis was brought home to me again recently by a situation faced by a family member who recently moved to this area from Virginia.

In Virginia, he was covered under a plan that had a $3,000 deductible and for which he paid $465 per month with no subsidies. In Central Pennsylvania, the best quote he has received is for a plan with a $6,000 deductible that would cost $1,300 a month. This is almost triple the cost for a plan that provides significantly less coverage.

We need access to the information essential to our understanding of why our costs are as high as they are when compared to other regions of the state and country.

We also need to understand the health needs of our population so that resources can be allocated appropriately and support systems can be put into place for those who need care.

It is my hope and the hope of the board of directors of the Central Penn Business Group on Health that self-funded employers in our region will support our organization’s efforts to significantly impact health care in our region.

• Diane Hess is executive director of the Central Penn Business Group on Health, an affiliate of the Lancaster Chamber. For more information, visit lcbgh.org

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