Aug 14, 2019

How employers are tackling health costs

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Employers have more power over our health care system than anyone else, and they're getting more creative with how to wield it to lower costs, according to a new survey of large employers.

Why it matters: U.S. health care spending is going to become increasingly unsustainable until employers — which cover a plurality of Americans — decide they've had enough.

  • The survey, conducted by the National Business Group on Health, is another sign that they're getting closer to that point.
  • A PwC report recently predicted that 2020 will be "a year in which more employers fight back."

Details: The survey reflects 147 large employers covering 15 million people.

  • It found that employers are increasingly focused on primary care, as prevention is a lot more cost-effective than treatment.
  • 34% of the employers said primary care will be available on or near the worksite next year, and 24% said they'll steer patients to physician-based alternative care organizations or high performance networks.

Additionally, employers are grappling with how to handle the services that do drive their high costs.

  • More than a quarter are expanding their use of centers of excellence in areas like orthopedics and fertility, and many said they're considering alternate ways of paying for new million-dollar specialty drugs.

Yes, but: Even with these strategies, costs are still expected to rise by 5%.

Go deeper: If there's a turning point on health costs, it'll come from employers

Go deeper

Trump threatens to "assume control" of Minneapolis over unrest

Flames from a nearby fire illuminate protesters standing on a barricade in front of the Third Police Precinct in Minneapolis on Thursday. Photo: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump threatened via Twitter early Friday to send the national guard to Minneapolis following three days of massive demonstrations and unrest in the city over George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody this week.

Details: "I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right," Trump tweeted after a police station was torched by some protesters.

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Twitter: Trump's Minnesota tweet violated rules on violence

Twitter said Friday morning that a tweet from President Trump in which he threatened shooting in response to civil unrest in Minneapolis violated the company's rules. The company said it was leaving the tweet up in the public interest.

Why it matters: The move exacerbates tensions between Twitter and Trump over the company's authority to label or limit his speech and, conversely, the president's authority to dictate rules for a private company.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: Protests over George Floyd's death grip Minneapolis

Protesters cheer as the Third Police Precinct burns behind them on in Minneapolis on Thursday night. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Cheering protesters set a Minneapolis police station on fire Thursday night in the third night of unrest following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in the city, per AP.

The state of play: Minnesota's governor on Thursday activated the state's national guard following violent outbreaks throughout the week, as the nation waits to see if the officers involved will be charged with murder.