The Truven Health Blog

The latest healthcare topics from a trusted, proven, and unbiased source.


Proactive Outreach Can Increase the Success of Price Transparency Solutions

By Truven Staff
Matt Collins imageLast month, Suzanne Delbanco of Health Affairs wrote an excellent blog post pertaining to price transparency solution entitled: “Price Transparency Tools: The Good News, the Challenges, and the Way Forward.” This article does a great job of articulating how far price transparency solutions have come over the years, and more importantly discusses what still needs to be done to ensure that users are adequately engaged to ensure that people a) want to utilize the solution; and b) want to keep coming back. Indeed one of the biggest challenges with offering a price transparency solution is to ensure that people are aware of and want to visit the solution. To paraphrase Ms. Delbanco, just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come. Having single digit usage rates is not what an employer or health plan offering a price transparency solution is hoping for.
So, this begs the question, how can these solutions entice consumers to want to visit them initially, and become repeat visitors? Plan design plays an integral role in driving solution usage. A consumer with a very rich plan will have very little need to spend the time doing research to find a lower-cost doctor. Consumer-driven health plans give consumers “skin in the game.” For consumers in these plans, a price transparency solution essentially becomes a requirement. When every dollar (prior to meeting a deductible) comes out of the consumer’s pocket, finding a cost-effective doctor almost becomes a necessity.

As Ms. Delbanco points out, once these consumers hit their deductibles, they will be less apt to make return visits. I would argue that having health education content and valuable provider-specific quality metrics within the solution will assist in enticing these consumers to return to the site even after meeting their deductibles. The thought here is that consumers will initially be pulled to the site in search of provider-specific cost information, but then realize the benefits of being able to research the procedures via helpful health education information, and research physicians via robust provider-specific quality information.

At Truven Health Analytics, we are utilizing health messaging to further increase engagement with our price transparency solution. We are able to send proactive monthly messages to a population about gaps in care, preventive screenings, and cost savings and drive them to the transparency solution website. We mine claims data on a monthly basis and look for opportunities to message to a population related to their heath and financial well being. These messages are then sent out via email, SMS text, or the postal service. In the case of the email and SMS messages, users receive a message that states that the user has an important health message waiting in their own personal secure mailbox. This secure mailbox can share the same website as the price transparency solution and the messages themselves can contain messages directing the user to learn more about the costs of the procedure or condition. As a result of marrying an outreach solution with a price transparency solution, we are seeing some very encouraging results in terms of usage, as well as repeat users.

Matt Collins
Director, Product Management

The Time is Now for Employers to Minimize Their “Cadillac” Tax Exposure

By Truven Staff
Chris Justice imageAlthough the employer mandate included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has been delayed until January 1, 2015, there isn’t time for employers to take a breather. In fact, employers need to use this time to put their PPACA impact analysis and planning into high gear.

In a newly released insights brief from Truven Health Analytics, The Time is Now: Immediate Actions for Employers Around Health Reform, we provide some key insights into what employers should be doing this year. One of the most important is to minimize exposure to the 40 percent “Cadillac” excise tax.

Most of us know that employers with self-funded arrangements will pay the tax on their high-cost plans; carriers will pay the tax on insured plans, presumably passing on costs in the form of higher premiums. Employers need to understand what cost-trend rates they need to maintain to minimize or avoid exposure to the tax. In addition, they will need to consider the impact of high-deductible and consumer-driven health plan designs on population health and health risk.

This means that organizations should be focused today on creating comprehensive healthcare cost projections using various trend and plan design assumptions to inform decisions on cost control measures and cost sharing approaches. Modeling “what-if” plans can help employers assess the viability of different benefit plan and premium contribution scenarios, including high-deductible and consumer-driven health plan designs.

Other items on the smart employer’s to-do list right now should be: determining if their plans meet the minimum value and affordability requirements, assessing the impact of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund and Transitional Reinsurance fees, and determining the financial impact of exchange migration.

Download our recent insights brief, The Time is Now: Immediate Actions for Employers Around Health Reform.

Chris Justice
Senior Director, Practice Leadership