Rising Cost of Healthcare Topic of Meeting

With the cost of health care continuing to rise, members of the SEA and other labor unions met Tuesday with state officials to hear about potential approaches to stem the meteoric increases in cost for the state Health Benefit Program. The meeting was part of a collaborative effort and was held at the SEA offices in Concord.

According to data provided by the state, N.H. has seen healthcare costs increase by an average of 10 percent a year between 1999 and 2012, from $77 million to $241.3 million. Adding to the cost are parts of the Affordable Care Act that will require new fees in the short term, and in the longer term, an excise tax on high-cost employer sponsored health plans. That second change, which is to take effect in 2018, could cost the state millions in taxes if plan costs aren’t lowered.

A presentation by consultant Martin Segal Corp. explained that part of the problem is that our healthcare system is designed to treat sick people, not keep people healthy. It’s with that in mind that members in the Health Benefit Program can expect to see more efforts in the area of “health management.”

While health management is just part of the process of lowering costs, it will be the part that’s most visible to Health Benefit Program members. The state outlined key factors to consider as it works on a strategic approach to wellness:

  • Annual employee health education program
  • Diabetes management
  • Tobacco cessation
  • Healthy weight
  • Stress management
  • Evaluating key health indicators
  • Leadership health promotion and role modeling
  • Preventative health
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