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Finding Opportunity in the Chaos: Getting on the Path to Better Health and Higher Value Health Care

Posted By Louise Probst, Wednesday, October 7, 2020

COVID-19 ushered in previously unimaginable changes in every sector of the American economy and life. During the early months, health care providers found themselves simultaneously on the front lines confronting the virus while responding to steep revenue losses from unprecedented declines in elective services. Locally, many businesses have had their operations and revenue models upended and find their financial futures placed in question. Likewise, many families find themselves in dire financial need and looking for employment in an uncertain economy. Eight months into the pandemic, infections continue to surge and the end is not yet in sight.


The overuse of low value health care services, previously thought to be unstoppable, dropped overnight. Although this created short-term surpluses in employer health spending accounts, several potentially bothersome scenarios remained: worsening employee health due to missed or delayed diagnosis and treatments, steep health care price escalation, and a return to the rampant overuse of medical services with little or no clinical value.


Concerned about the pandemic’s lasting effects on our community, BHC leaders joined together to share learnings and explore options to realize better health for employees and the community and better value from our region’s collective and significant investments in health care coverage. From these conversations, and on behalf of its members and all employers, BHC sent correspondence to local health plan and health system leaders urging them to keep health care prices flat, consistent with current economic conditions and for their leadership in shaping a new, higher value health care system for our region.  BHC also invited their suggestions for steps purchasers can take in supporting their transition to higher value.


Meanwhile, BHC is actively exploring the successes of other purchasers and leading states on the path to better health and value health care. Some of you with worksites in Massachusetts may already have evidenced the State’s meaningful progress toward more affordable, higher value.  Leaving behind a long tradition of being one of the nation’s most expensive health care states, statewide spending targets have enabled it achieve spending well below the national average. In fact, as the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission slide demonstrates, between 2013 – 2018, just the savings from being below the national spending average, freed-up more than $7.2 billion to be spent on other goods and services.  We welcome your observations and suggestions.


Warm Regards, 

Louise Y. Probst
BHC Executive Director


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