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Area exec offers affordability advice at world health event

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Employers have the power to reduce health care costs and improve their employee benefit plans.

However, many are not aware of how to accomplish this task.

Experts in the health care industry discussed this topic and many more at a recent health care conference that explored the latest insights in employer direct contracting, benefits adviser leadership, corporate health-risk innovation and a range of other issues.

The 15th annual World Health Care Congress in Washington, D.C. attracted more than 950 health care executives, including one local expert who spoke on two panels during the three-day conference, which ended May 2.

Gary Bender, founder and CEO of The CFO Solution in Quakertown, was one of four chief financial officers who attended. Health care benefits providers invited him to talk about how the C-suite level executive evaluates and makes decisions on health care plans.

“They wanted the perspective of a finance exec on benefits management, and I was honored to share the experience of my firm and the impact that CFO Forum is having on other privately held companies,” Bender said, referring to his monthly program offered by Manufacturers Resource Center. “I attended most of the sessions and was amazed at the efforts to improve health care offerings.

“However, our session was the only one that dealt with the economics and affordability of these improved treatment plans, drugs and other programs.”

ALTERNATIVES

The conference gathered leaders in health care, including providers, researchers and government and agency officials, as well as pharmaceutical and service providers.

They explored a variety of topics, such as trials and programs that are underway, as well as discussions of culture, policy and economic enablers and barriers, Bender said.

Health care is one of the largest expenses for a business, but there are alternatives to always buying the same plan, he said.

Bender said he focused on ways to drive down health care costs for private companies and their employees, and shared these details at the conference.

BEST PRACTICES

The group of executives that comprise the monthly CFO Forum meetings publish their best practices in the CFO Solution, Bender said.

He said he implemented a few best practices at an engineering firm in New Jersey that he owns and eliminated all deductibles for employees and gave them a benefit plan they could afford to use.

As an example, he said, his engineering firm, which has 23 employees, reduced its employee health care deductible from $6,000 to zero and maximum out-of-pocket costs from $15,000 to $1,150 per year by implementing these best practices.

Creating best practices allows for the reduction of costs for the firm and employees and their families without a reduction in the quality of the health care services offered, he added.

CUT COSTS BY UP TO 40 PERCENT

According to Bender, companies can reduce their total costs by 25 to 40 percent and cut costs for employees and their families while maintaining or even improving their health care plan.

“These are nontraditional approaches largely because the major carriers and the broker advisory industry have goals to maximize their revenue and profits, not to reduce the costs to the companies or their employees,” he said.

“We think 60 percent of private companies can benefit from doing what we did. This is where health care has to go. In the last couple of years, employers have given employees a plan they can’t afford.”

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