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TN Plans Encouraged to Give "Good Driver Discounts"

Proposed recommendations for the Tennessee Health Insurance Exchange encourage health plans and employers to establish expectations about personal responsibility and engagement through benefit designs in the Exchange.   The wellness program could provide some sort of "good driver discount" in the form of a lower premium or other incentives to those enrollees who satisfy these standards. Having the exchange plans offer these incentives will make it easier for larger employers too!... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, December 12, 2011

Take Steps to Reduce Your Labor & Delivery Costs

Labor and delivery account for nearly 25% of all hospitalizations for many employers, and costs associated with pregnancy and its complications are a driving factor in the rising costs of health care. The growing use of medically unnecessary interventions is increasing costs and complications among mothers and babies, with no evidence of improved outcomes. The Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR), an independent, non-profit corporation working on behalf of large employers to catalyze... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, December 12, 2011

Benefits Basics: MBGH Offers New Member Benefit in 2012

In 2012, MBGH is offering a series of Benefits Basics webinars, designed to "fill the gap" for educational programming geared toward new hires, where other programs are not readily available from reliable training sources (such as ISCEBS or WEB). These "101" level classes are for MBGH members-only and oriented toward new benefits staff, or individuals in need of refresher information.  Programs will be taught by seasoned benefits professionals and are being sponsored by the Health... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, December 9, 2011

How Will a TN Insurance Exhcange Impact Employers?

Get the answer by reading the full document (or the Executive Summary ), “Best Alternatives to a Federal Insurance Exchange in Tennessee”, just issued by the State of Tennessee Insurance Exchange Planning Initiative (the Initiative). The report provides a comprehensive analysis of the governance, structure, processes of an insurance exchange and suggests how Tennessee may want to address the issues to ensure a stable and competitive market in the state. The Small Business... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, October 31, 2011

Take Steps to Offer Healthy Options in the Workplace

In July of this year, MBGH sponsored the “Believe in a Healthy Memphis: 2011 Let’s CHANGE Summit” in collaboration with the Shelby County Health Department and Healthy Memphis Common Table. Ham Smythe, President of Yellow Cab and Checker Cab, was an active participant in the  “Where We Work” group, which detailed the options employers could explore to stimulate healthy lifestyles in employees. This was not the first time Smythe had explored the options he had to encourage healthy... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, October 31, 2011

Flurry of Activity in Physician Practice Acquisition in Memphis

It seems a week does not go by without at least one physician practice forming a partnership or being acquired by a Memphis area health system. The most recent announcement, just today, was Methodist's acquisition of Eastmoreland Internal Medicine. Have you tried to keep up with who owns who? Check out a list developed by doing searches on the Commercial Appeal and Memphis Business Journal websites for Methodist and Baptist.   Although the list may not include all health... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, October 31, 2011

Following a Blog on a Blog

Well, not quite a blog in the truest sense, but a Facebook version of a blog. Here is a recent conversation on Facebook about public reporting of hospital infection rates! Bottom line, whose burden is it? The hospital's burden of data collection, measurement and reporting? Or the patient's burden of dieing or going through the pain of treatment to survive? At some point we have to get to the bottom line. We all deserve to know the basics about the quality of the hospitals that serve us. Thank... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, October 26, 2011

IOM's Essential Health Benefits Recommendations Leave More Questions Than Answers

The IOM recommended that HHS develop an EHB package by May 2012. The high-level recommendations are as follows: 1. The EHB package should be adjusted so that the expected national average premium for a “silver” (second-lowest-price) plan is actuarially equivalent to the average premium small employers would have paid in 2014 for a typical plan. 2. The HHS Secretary should establish a framework for monitoring EHB implementation and updating that accounts for changes in... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, October 20, 2011

Public Reporting Helps Spur Improvement in Hospital Infections

Memphis Business Group on Health is proud to be the Leapfrog Regional Roll-Out for Memphis and West Tennessee and to serve as Vice Chair of the Leapfrog Board of Directors. We are excited to see that public reporting of hospital acquired infections is resulting in improved care for patients. MBGH has been working with our Memphis hospitals to report this information since 2009. Thank you to these hospitals for being willing to report and for focusing on improvement. Memphis area results can be... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, October 19, 2011

If I were King....

If I were King, and could wave my magic wand, my three wishes would be (ooops, I think I am mixing metaphors, oh well): Engage my employees as partners with me in the quality and cost of their health benefits. I would Implement a benefit design similar to the State of Tennessee , offering lower payroll deduction for premium co-shares, lower deductibles, lower co-pays, and lower co-insurance in exchange for employees and their families taking an HRA, getting their biometrics, and agreeing... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, September 23, 2011

NBCH Hospital Patient Safety Action Brief Details Actions for Employers

The National Business Coalition on Health's (NBCH) Action Brief on Hospital Patient Safety, lays out the issues, details how health plans across the country are or are not working to improve safety, and details actions employers can take to have an impact on patient safety for their employees. 2011 eValue8 results were used to track how health plans are or are not working to improve safety. MBGH is an active participant in the eValue8 process and this year both BlueCross BlueShield of... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 22, 2011

State Governments Requiring More from Employees in New Health Benefits

Maybe it's time for the private sector to look at how state governments are ratcheting up the requirements for employees to get health benefits and follow suit. Whether it is called the Health Enhancement Plan, like it is in Connecticut, or the ParTNers for Health Plan, as it is in Tennessee, state governments are offering new plans that offer lower employee costs (through payroll deductions, deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance) in exchange for employee engagement in health risk... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do You Understand the Impact of the Individual Mandate?

Great article from Milliman explaining why something has to be done to address adverse selection in health reform. If it is not the individual mandate, what will it be? As Tom Snook, Principal & Consulting Actuary, Milliman Inc., says, people will operate in their own economic self-interest. If they are healthy and the cost of health insurance is high, they will not purchase health insurance, especially if it is not highly subsidized by their employer. If they are sick, they are more... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rules Issued for Women's Preventive Care

On August 1, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) issued detailed guidelines ( ) for group health plans and health insurance issuers relating to coverage of preventive services under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). A fact sheet is also available at the portal. These guidelines supplement the IFR on general preventive care requirements... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, September 19, 2011

Tax Treatment of Employer-Provided Health Coverage

Currently, the value of health insurance coverage provided by employers is not subject to payroll or income taxes. Recent budget calculations indicate that this is the federal government’s largest tax expenditure, at a cost of more than $1 trillion over the next five years (though this also includes the employer deduction of these costs as a business expense), and the Joint Tax committee has estimated the cost of the tax expenditure for the employee exclusion for health insurance... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, September 19, 2011

Do You Know the Common Causes of Wrong Site Surgery?

As it turns out, wrong site surgeries happen for many reasons and often the cause for the mistake happens before the patient is even scheduled for surgery.  A new initiative of the Joint Commission Center for Transforming Healthcare believes that wrong site surgery should NEVER happen, so it has quite a challenge since, on average, 40 wrong site surgeries occur every week across the country and such surgeries are the most frequently reported sentinel events at hospitals. Pilot... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On-site Medical Clinics Continue to Interest Employers

Embracing the belief that providing on-site medical care can keep employees healthy and productive and save money, more and more employers are opening their own state-of-the-art health centers. Mercer reports that, nationally, 15% of employers with more than 500 employees have health centers, up 4 percentage points from last year. The larger the employer the more likely they are to have on-site centers. These centers are moving beyond urgent, now offering preventive services, such as... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, July 19, 2011

John Moses Debunks Old Approaches to Employee Engagement at MBGH Annual Conference

Every employer MBGH talks to says they want to increase the “health engagement” of their employees, but the strategies they have used so far just have not been successful. Does this sound like you? If so, plan to attend MBGH’s Annual Conference “Got the Health Reform Blues?” on September 8, 2011 and hear John Moses, Principal at AON Hewitt, talk about the new “marketing” principles that employers should adopt to lead employees to short-term action and long-term behavior change. ... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ever Wonder What A Never-Event Looks Like?

Every year 1,300 to 2,700 Americans are harmed by wrong-site errors. Even after all the attention to this issue since 1999, brought to light by To Err is Human , and an understanding that it is possible NOT to have these injuries, highlighted in 2001 in Crossing the Quality Chasm , these numbers are not going down and people are still harmed. It is critical to put a face on this problem. It is not just numbers, it is people that are harmed -- it can be you, your family, your co-worker,... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, June 17, 2011

McKinsey Projects 30% of Employers Will Drop Health Benefits

Major findings from McKinsey's early 2011 survey of 1,300 employers include: Overall, 30 percent of employers will definitely or probably stop offering employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) in the years after 2014. Among employers with a high awareness of reform, this proportion increases to more than 50 percent, and upward of 60 percent will pursue some alternative to traditional ESI. At least 30 percent of employers would gain economically from dropping coverage even if... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, June 6, 2011

Employers Take Note: Sitting is Bad For Your Employees & Your Business!

Recent research indicates that "sitting can be lethal". With the increase of "knowledge workers" who are tied to their desks on the phone, webinars, computer and in long conference room meetings, employers should start thinking about how to keep these employees active throughout the day, improving employee effectiveness. Here are a couple of articles from offering suggestions on how to get your employees up and moving while they are doing their jobs and on how to establish a wellness... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, June 2, 2011

What work place policy change would you support to improve health?

51% of those responding to MBGH's informal Facebook poll on what work place policy change they would support to improve health voted for "no tobacco use on property". This is exciting news as decreasing the number of tobacco users is a high priority to improve the overall health of Tennesseans and the nation! Recent legislation that banned or restricted smoking in the work place has gone a long way in improving the health of your workforce by eliminating second hand smoke and encouraging... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, May 31, 2011

IRS Releases 2012 Indexed Amounts for HSAs, HDHPs

On May 24, 2011, the U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Revenue Procedure 2011-32, which lists the 2012 indexed amounts, adjusted for inflation, for health savings accounts and high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). (In some cases, this resulted in no change from the prior year.) The following table lists the 2011 amounts and the new 2012 amounts: The Revenue Procedure is effective for calendar year 2012.  (Source: CQ HealthBeat) ... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dow Chemical Maps Connection of Employee Health to Company Success

In the first of a two-part interview with Dr. Cathy Baase, Global Director of Health Services for Dow Chemical, The Benfield Group's article outlines the key philosophy and approaches Dow has taken over the past 20 years to increase value to Dow by improving employee health. Central to Dow's approach is their map which focuses on employee effectiveness and illness/injury management.   As you can see, the common element between employee effectiveness and illness/injury management... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Delbanco believes the healthcare payment system needs “CPR”

Who better to help you beat the health reform blues than Suzanne F. Delbanco, PhD., executive director of Catalyst for Payment Reform (CPR). Delbanco is joining Peter Hayes , Principal for Healthcare Solutions and formerly with Hannaford Supermarkets, and John Moses, PhD, thought leader for behavior change and measurement with AON Hewitt, as national keynote speakers at MBGH September 8, 2011 Annual Conference, “Got the Health Reform Blues?” .   CPR is working to... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, May 16, 2011

MBGH Now Offers Vendor Due Diligence

Few tasks in benefits management are more time-consuming and expensive than performing due diligence on vendors or potential vendors. Starting now MBGH members can supplement or replace vendor due diligence with information from The Leapfrog Due Diligence Cooperative. This vendor due diligence information can save MBGH members tremendous time, resources and money. Plus, you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re making the right decisions. This information is... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, May 16, 2011

MBGH Launches New Health Promotions Benefits Tool & Solutions Center

Our members said they wanted it, and we listened. In the most recent MBGH user survey, worksite health promotion ranked number one as the most important learning topic. That’s why MBGH created a new Tools & Solutions Center dedicated to Health Promotion Benefits.The center is available to MBGH members, affiliates and conference sponsors at the Patron and Partner level. Your login is your email address and the password is  mbgh  . This center includes information from the... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, May 16, 2011

MBGH Appointed to National Measures Applications Partnership Advising HHS

Memphis Business Group on Health has been appointed to the Measures Applications Partnership (MAP), a consensus-based entity advising the U. S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) on the best measures to use in public reporting, value-based payment, and other programs. Established by the National Quality Forum, the MAP brings together stakeholder groups in collaboration that balances the interests of consumers, businesses and purchasers, labor, health plans, clinicians and... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, May 16, 2011

Memphis Total Cost of Healthcare Increases Less Than National Average

The good news for Memphis is that our total cost of healthcare for a typical family of four covered by a PPO increased only 5.7% from 2010 to 2011 compared to a national increase of 7.3% during that same time period. Memphis costs are now 4.3% above the national average, down from 6% above the national average in 2010. The Milliman Medical Index looks at costs paid by the employer and the employee at a national level and at several key markets throughout the US, including Memphis. Because... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, May 12, 2011

Broker Commissions: In or Out of Medical Loss Ratio Calculations?

Health Reform Update from the National Business Coalition on Health The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is considering whether to endorse legislation that would remove broker and agent commissions from the medical loss ratio, a calculation that could give consumers valuable insights about the proportion of their premiums spent on health care costs compared with administrative expenses and salaries. Removal would have far-reaching implications for the... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, May 11, 2011

High-Profile Healthcare Centers Skeptical of ACO Proposed Rules

Health Reform Update from National Business Coalition on Health As NBCH and many organizations are preparing to submit comments to HHS on the ACO federal regulations, the nation’s highest-profile health care centers — the Cleveland Clinic, the Mayo Clinic, Intermountain Healthcare or the Geisinger Health System —have so many concerns with the proposed rule to create ACOs that they doubt that they will participate. The 2010 health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-152) created the... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, May 11, 2011

MBGH Recognizes Two Health Plans & Five Hospitals For Improving Cost & Quality

The Memphis Business Group on Health (MBGH), Memphis’s only non-profit organization focused on employee health and wellness issues from the employers’ perspective, recognized two health insurance companies and five regional hospitals for their progress toward improving health care quality in the region in 2010. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee and UnitedHealthcare of Tennessee were recognized for scoring in the top 15% on several aspects of eValue8, the leading evidence-based... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Friday, April 29, 2011

MBGH is First TN Employer Group to Sign Pledge for Partnership for Patients

Memphis Business Group on Health is the first employer/employer group in Tennessee to sign the pledge to support the " Partnership for Patients ' Partnership for Patients: Better Care, Lower Costs was launched today, April 12, 2011, by HHS Secretary Sebelius and CMS Administrator Berwick along with consumer groups, industry representatives, and other key stakeholders, including the Leapfrog Group and the National Business Coalition on Health. MBGH was the first Tennessee employer group... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rhodes College Builds A Sense of Community Through Wellness Programs

Martha McGeachy (shown on her bike), Benefit Services Manager at Rhodes College, gets to the bottom line quickly about why Rhodes has ramped up their health and wellness programs, "We think these programs serve the College and our employees by raising awareness of healthy lifestyles and building a sense of community.  The benefit to our health plan is more long-term, but with diligence and patience we believe we will see good results." And, Rhodes, an MBGH member since 1990, ... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Saturday, April 9, 2011

Peter Hayes on Tap for MBGH Annual Conference

Peter Hayes will join John Moses, PhD, thought leader for behavior change and measurement with Aon Hewitt, and Suzanne F. Delbanco, PhD., M.P.H., executive director of Catalyst for Payment Reform as national keynote speakers at the MBGH Annual Conference on September 8, 2011. Prior to becoming Principal with Healthcare Solutions, Peter worked for Hannaford Supermarkets for 20+ years, managing the company’s health care for approximately 15 years. At Hannaford, Hayes’s aim was to develop... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Saturday, April 9, 2011

Competitive Advantage Drives First Horizon to Invest in Health

Why does MBGH member First Horizon invest so heavily in the health of their employees? CEO Bryan Jordan puts it this way, "Our employees are our competitive advantage so we invest in programs designed to encourage them and their family members to lead healthy lifestyles, and they've responded enthusiastically," As you will see, First Horizon has implemented a comprehensive program to support this belief. On July 4 last year, the company declared its independence from tobacco and... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Saturday, April 9, 2011

Congratulations to Healthiest Employers Award Winners

MBGH Salutes Winners of the Memphis Business Journal’s Mid-South’s Healthiest Employers Awards Adams and Reese (1-99 employees) was recognized for a combination of health initiatives, including discounted gym memberships and a cash incentive weight loss program. Ring Container Technologies (100-499 employees) earned the award for creating a culture that included personal health coaches for all employees and walking meetings at the company’s on-site walking track. ... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Saturday, April 9, 2011

What's most important to you when you get health care services?

Getting care that is best for your condition? Getting care when you need it? Getting care from skilled & knowledgeable professionals? Getting care that does not harm you? 44% of those responding to MBGH's informal Facebook poll chose "getting care that is best for my condition". 20% chose "getting care from skilled & knowledgeable professionals". As you may have guessed, all four of these choices are components of getting quality care. But, it is... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, March 31, 2011

Are Memphis Employers Kinder & Gentler?

Are Memphis Employers Kinder and Gentler Than Their National Counterparts?   MBGH decided to find out. We separated out the responses of Tennessee employers to a national survey of employers and then compared them to national responses.  Most of the Tennessee respondents were from Memphis, giving us insight into what Memphis employers are thinking and doing! And, it's surprisingly different. Take a quick look at these easy-to-read findings. Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Sunday, March 20, 2011

Brokers Seek to Preserve Role in Health Insurance Exchanges: TN Update

Insurance brokers, concerned that their livelihoods could be significantly impacted with the implementation of health insurance exchanges, are working hard to be sure they continue to play a role and earn agent commissions. Efforts include working with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to get Congress to exempt broker/agent commissions from the medical loss ratio requirements; introducing a bill in Iowa that requires individuals and small employers to use a broker to... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Wednesday, March 16, 2011

MBGH to Moderate Mid-South's Healthiest Employers Panel

Cristie Upshaw Travis, CEO of Memphis Business Group on Health, will moderate a panel discussion on health issues that affect the workplace after the awards breakfast for the Mid-South's Healthiest Employers on Friday, March 25, 2011. The Mid-South's Healthiest Employers awards are presented by the Memphis Business Journal, partnered with The Church Health Center, and sponsored by CIGNA, the Y, and Methodist Healthcare. The awards breakfast will recognize local, Memphis-area employers for... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Monday, February 14, 2011

MBGH Talks with MBQ About How State Health Insurance Exchanges Impact Businesses

Cristie Upshaw Travis, CEO of Memphis Business Group on Health, talked with Richard Banks, blogger for the Memphis Business Quarterly's Business Minded Blog, about a critical component of healthcare reform, state health insurance exchanges, and how exchanges will impact Memphis businesses. Read the complete post to learn the basics about exchanges. Get information about how Tennessee is planning to implement exchanges by clicking "Health Insurance Exchange" tag at the end of this post... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MBGH Helps MBQ Get a Handle on What Health Reform Means to Business

Cristie Upshaw Travis, CEO of Memphis Business Group on Health, helps Richard Banks, blogger for the Memphis Business Quarterly's Business Minded Blog, get, what he refers to as, a "semblance of comprehension" about what health reform means for business. In this first installment of a series of postings on the realities of health reform, Banks talked with Travis about decisions both large and small employers are making now that "sidestep" some of the early provisions of health reform, at... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Thursday, January 13, 2011

Health Reform Impact on Dental & Vision Benefits Depends on Structure

Segal's December 2010 Health Reform Insights focuses on the impact of health reform on dental and vision benefits. Segal finds that self-insured dental and vision plans that are NOT separately elected and paid ARE subject to health reform. However, exemptions ARE granted for dental and vision plans that have a participant election and contribution. Interestingly, the 2010 Dental Benefits Enrollment Report , shows a decline in dental benefit enrollment for the first time since... Read More
Posted by Cristie Travis at Tuesday, January 4, 2011

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