Alegent Health Takes Its Consumer-Driven Health Plan to Capitol Hill
Release Date: 05/14/2008

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CEO Wayne Sensor to Testify Before House Ways and Means Committee

OMAHA, Neb. – A Congressional Sub-committee will hear from Alegent Health CEO Wayne Sensor on May 14 as it examines Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and consumer-driven health care plans. Sensor and Alegent Health are vocal advocates for health plans that engage employees to take control of their health and health care.

“In order to truly change how people viewed health care and to lower health care costs, we need to encourage people to change their behavior and adopt healthier lifestyles,” said Sensor. “In designing our consumer driven health plans, we decided to offer two important features: we made preventive care free and covered individuals are offered generous incentives to change behaviors that place their health at risk. The results we are seeing speak for themselves.”

While the nation has experienced an eight percent increase in health care claims over the past two years, Alegent Health’s increase has averaged 5.1 percent, 37.5 percent less. Based on claims, data indicate Alegent Health’s employees enrolled in HSA plans spent significantly less on health care with costs dropping 15 percent between 2006 and 2007.

As Alegent Health enters its third year of providing consumer-directed health plans, more than 90 percent of its employees have a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Health Reimbursement Account (HRA). Alegent Health offers two HRA accounts and two HSA accounts from which employees can choose. The organization also offers a PPO plan for employees.

The first year of the plan, 79 percent of employees chose either the HSA or HRA plans. That number grew to 88 percent in year two and reached 92 percent as employees enrolled for 2008. In addition to the significantly lower increases in the cost of the benefit plan, Alegent Health’s spending on preventive and wellness care for employees is 150 percent greater than the national average, an investment in employee health that should help to significantly reduce future health care costs.

A review of Alegent’s health care plan finds more employees engaged in their health resulting in a cost savings and a healthier workforce:

  • The health system spends nearly seven percent of its health care costs on prevention, compared to the national average of 2.3 percent.
  • Nearly 40 percent of its employees take an annual personal health risk assessment and earn $100 each.
  • More than 500 Alegent Health employees have quit smoking over the past two years.
  • Employees are taking advantage of Alegent Health’s weight management program – losing more than 13,000 pounds over the last two years.
  • “Opponents of consumer directed care need to know what’s happening at Alegent Health. We are an example of how consumer driven health care not only works – it works well,” said Sensor. “At a time when consumers are used to seeing substantial annual increases in their health care costs, our employees are seeing a 15 percent decrease – it’s dramatic. The lower costs coupled with greater preventive care suggests we will continue to lower employee health costs in future years.”

    At Alegent Health, employees with Health Savings Accounts are showing the highest level of engagement in their health care:

  • More than 45 percent of HSA participants completed a health risk assessment compared to just 16 percent in the PPO plan.
  • Nearly 65 percent of pharmacy prescriptions for HSA participants were filled with the less expensive generic drugs, compared to 56 percent in the PPO plan. Furthermore, 96 percent of the time, when a generic substitution was available, the HSA participant chose a generic.
  • Nearly 67 percent of those enrolled in the HSA plan used Alegent Health’s informational web tools during the year compared to 35 percent in the PPO plan.
  • “Alegent Health is committed to assisting the people we serve lead healthier lives,” continued Sensor. “We began this journey by transforming how our workforce approaches health care. By promoting health care quality and price transparency as an organization, we want to encourage all health care consumers, not just our employees to seek care that provides the highest quality at the most reasonable cost.”

    Sensor says that is the story he will tell the committee when he testifies on May 14 at 10:30 a.m. Washington D.C. time in the main committee hearing room, 1100 Longworth House Office Building.

    About Alegent Health

    Alegent Health is the largest not-for-profit, faith-based healthcare system in Nebraska and southwestern Iowa with nine acute care hospitals, more than 100 sites of service, over 1,300 physicians on its medical staff and 9,000 employees. Alegent Health is making healthcare better with an exceptional commitment to quality and by providing patient focused care for the body, mind and spirit of every person. At Alegent Health, patients and their families find a continuum of care, from women's and children's services, primary care, wellness counseling, and senior care to cardiovascular services, orthopaedics, oncology, physical rehabilitation and behavioral health. Alegent Health is sponsored by Catholic Health Initiatives and Immanuel Health Systems.