Friday, August 31, 2018

You’ll Never Guess Which Company Is

health Benefits

You’ll never guess which company is reinventing health Benefits

It’s hard to consider a corporation that seems less likely to rework healthcare. It isn’t headquartered in Silicon Valley, with all the venture-backed start-ups.

It’s not among the corporate giants—Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase—that recently announced, with much fanfare, an idea to overhaul the medical-industrial complex for their employees.

And it's among the foremost hated companies within the U.S., consistent with many surveys on customer satisfaction.

The nation’s largest cable company—the $169 billion Philadelphia-based behemoths that also controls Universal Parks & Resorts, “Sunday Night Football,” and MSNBC—is among a couple of employers declaring progress in reaching a much-desired goal.

within the last five years, the corporate says, its healthcare costs have stayed nearly flat.

They're increasing by about 1% a year, well under the three average of other large employers and below general inflation.

“They’re the foremost interesting and artistic employer when it involves healthcare benefits,” said Dr. Bob Kocher, a partner at Venrock, a risk capital firm whose portfolio companies have done business with Comcast.

(The cable company declined over several months to supply executives for an interview on this subject.) Comcast, which spends roughly $1.3 billion a year on healthcare for its 225,000 employees and families, has steered far away from a number of the normal methods other companies impose to contain medical expenses.

It rejected the favored corporate tack of getting employees to shoulder more of the rising costs high-deductible plans, the mechanism that's notorious for discouraging people to hunt medical help.

Most employers now require their workers to pay a deductible before their insurance kicks in, with individuals on the hook for $1,500, on average, in upfront payouts, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Instead, Comcast lowered its deductible to $250 for many of its workers.

Cable TV subscribers who have felt confused and overwhelmed when handling Comcast customer service could also be surprised to find out how nimbly the corporate has upgraded services for its employees.

While Comcast continues to figure with insurers, it has largely shunned them as a source of innovation.

Instead, it's assembled its own portfolio of companies that it contracts with and invests in a number of them through a venture capital arm, Comcast Ventures.

One such company is Accolade, during which Comcast is an investor, and which provides independent guides called navigators to assist employees to use their health benefits.

Another, called Grand Rounds, offers second opinions and help find a doctor.

Comcast was also among the primary major employers to supply workers access to a doctor via cellphone through Doctor on Demand, a telehealth company.

The corporation, of course, is controlling costs and offering these unusual benefits out of self-interest.

And these services are sometimes handed out at the expense of improving wages.

during a tight market, Comcast also must remain competitive for not one highly skilled employees but also lower-wage workers whose direct contact with customers have generated such a lot of dissatisfaction over the years.

But much of what sets Comcast apart is its willingness to directly tackle its medical costs rather than counting on others—insurers, consultants, or associations.

It’s a luxury only the largest companies can afford, and roughly a fifth of massive companies still see annual cost increases of quite 10%, consistent with Mercer, a benefits consultant.


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