Health Care Transparency Tools Could Be Simpler — But Not Too Simple

November 20, 2015

In a recent article in Employee Benefit News (EBN) on the topic of health care transparency tools, writer Bruch Shutan cautions that “whittling down cost and quality measures for a more consumer-friendly presentation may improve employee uptake of such tools, but one industry expert with a medical background cautions that it could come at the expense of other important issues.“

Jeff Levin-Scherz, an M.D. and the national leader of Towers Watson’s health management practice, noted that a balance must be struck between simplifying the tools and keeping the valuable metrics and data they provide. Levin-Scherz favors including many meaningful metrics “because it probably drives quality improvement over a wider array of services.”

As a physician, Levin-Scherz is optimistic about efforts to increase transparency generally while reserving a “key role” for physicians in communicating valuable information to patients. One area that could benefit from better transparency tools and that has been prone to lack of transparency in the past is specialty pharmacy.

“If it’s for a specialty drug where there’s only one of that drug and there’s really no choice, it’s purely about contracts,” Levin-Scherz said. “But in instances like for hepatitis C, where there are multiple very highly efficacious medications, having a product design that steers people toward one or toward another can actually lead to substantially lower prices.”

As health care transparency tools and employee education increase, so do opportunities to control the high cost of health care for both employers and employees.

To read the complete article in EBN, click here.

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