Author Topic: Earl Kemper Contributes to our Plan for Lowering Healthcare Costs  (Read 5806 times)

Offline JC Spencer

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Earl Kemper Contributes His 2nd article for Lowering Healthcare Costs
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2008, 12:40:16 PM »
Monday, December 01, 2008
Alternative health care providers — a key to lower health care costs
Employers looking for ways to reduce the costs of health care may be interested in a new program available in Houston. The program encourages employees to practice healthy lifestyles and extends benefit coverage to alternative health care providers. Its emphasis is on improving and prolonging the health of employees by supporting the body’s tendency toward wellness.

The natural state of the human body is wellness. It is designed to return to good health when it becomes infected, injured, poisoned, burned, etc. When its cells or systems malfunction, the body initiates processes to identify and fix whatever is malfunctioning. Disorders of the body are either acute or chronic.

Acute disorders are those for which the body’s ability to heal itself functions properly. For example, if bacteria, viruses, fungi, or parasites, invade the body and attack its cells, the body launches mechanisms to overcome and kill those organisms.  These mechanisms may bring about fever, localized swelling, nausea, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, or other symptoms, but over time, the body will heal itself.

Chronic disorders are those for which the body’s ability to heal itself goes awry. Left uncorrected, chronic disorders will get worse with the passage of time. Chronic disorders have been associated with advanced age, but today even young people suffer from them. The costs of treating chronic disorders are the primary reason for the rapidly rising costs of health care.

Treatments used by health care professionals rely on the body’s ability to heal itself. Treatments will vary dramatically by type of health care professional. In broad terms, health care professionals are either medical (allopathic) doctors or alternative care doctors.

Allopathic doctors focus on sicknesses. Allopathic doctors first diagnose the disease or disorder, then they administer the standard medical treatment protocol for that condition. Common treatments for both acute and chronic disorders are drugs. Since almost all drugs treat the symptoms and not the cause, chronic disorders often intensify because the body’s self-healing mechanism continues to malfunction. Further, long-term use of drugs creates undesirable complications. Doctors treat those complications with other drugs and patients embark on a slippery slope of long-term, multiple-drug dependency. If chronic illnesses progress beyond the ability of drugs to cope with the symptoms, the treatments escalate to the use of hazardous processes (radiation and surgery) and the costs of the medical treatments increase rapidly. The spiraling costs of allopathic treatments for chronic disorders drive health care costs to ever higher levels.

In contrast, alternative care (non-allopathic) doctors focus on wellness. Treatments utilize non-toxic and non-hazardous materials and procedures to return the body to its natural state. Alternative care doctors look for clues about how and why the body drifted from its natural state. Once they reach a conclusion, they recommend certain remedies, rarely drugs, to help the body heal itself. If the remedies address the cause, the body returns to its natural state and the chronic disorder goes away.

Addressing the causes of chronic illnesses can often be a simple and cost-effective option for chronic disorders. Preventing chronic illnesses and delaying their onset by adopting healthy lifestyle practices can be even more cost effective.

Evidence of the effectiveness of alternative care treatments of chronic disorders abound. Books and articles written by respected health care professionals maintain that lifestyle and other adjustments can have a very positive impact on chronic disorders. Their claims are supported with sound logic and published research.

Employers wanting to add alternative health care options to their benefits packages can be hindered by strong ties between the health insurance industry and the allopathic medical community. Insurance policies rarely cover alternative health care practitioners and remedies. In addition, insurance companies rarely offer incentives to change behavior. Therefore, the costs of bringing about lifestyle changes in employees’ behavior are left to the business owner.

Programs that include alternative health care professionals are being developed and adopted in the greater Houston (Texas) area. These programs are designed to hold down health care benefit costs and to improve the long-term health of employees.

If you would like to explore these programs for you or your business, send an e-mail to [email protected].

Offline JC Spencer

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Earl Kemper Contributes to our Plan for Lowering Healthcare Costs
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2008, 10:25:02 AM »
Comments by J. C. Spencer

Earl Kemper is a principal in The Texas Business Group, writes for their blog and  works with companies to help them lower their healthcare costs.  He contributes with this article.  As we move forward with this open source concept, it is our intent to find the best of the best plans and present them in such a way that an individual or company can become more educated so they may be able to choose what is best for them.  Keeping your employees healthy is step number one.

Now the article by Earl Kemper from The Texas Business Group.

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Healthy employees - the solution to rising health care costs

Employers profit from healthy employees. Employees benefit, too, so a program that helps employees improve and prolong their health is a win-win solution.

How do employers profit?

Healthy employees keep group health insurance premiums down.

Healthy employees work more days per year, increasing potential revenues to the employer.

The day-to-day productivity and creativity of healthy employees are higher than if those same employees were chronically ill, adding more revenue potential.

Chronically ill employees who show up sick for work are more likely to make costly mistakes and reduce daily productivity.

Measuring the true costs of sick employees is difficult, but that should not deter employers from exploring the potential of healthier employees.

Since employers profit from healthy employees, what can employers do to encourage employees to improve and to prolong their health? What options are available to an employer who wants to offer such encouragement? And how much of health-improvement out-of-pocket expenses should an employer defray?

Traditional health insurance covers a portion of out-of-pocket sickness expenses, but provides little encouragement and few incentives to be healthy. As a result, the expenses of maintaining good health are borne entirely by the individual, unless a far-sighted employer offers to bear some of them.

Employers who provide their employees with traditional health insurance face ever-increasing premiums. According to the non-profit consumer advocate, Families USA, Texas health care insurance premiums rose 86.8 percent from 2000 to 2007. In 2000, the average family health insurance premium was $6,638. In 2007, that same coverage cost $12,403. In the same time period, median earnings rose just 15 percent, from $23,082 to $26,484. The costs of health care benefits rose from 28.7 percent of the employee’s wages and salary to 46.8 percent.

To employers, the options for traditional health care are troubling. They can pay all of the increase, shift more of the premium costs to the employees, switch insurance providers each year, increase deductibles and copays, reduce coverage, or discontinue health insurance coverage altogether. This is the environment for all businesses, both large and small.

On top of that, the small business owner has weak negotiating power with insurance providers. Increasing premiums have forced many small business owners to abandon health insurance coverage. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 59 percent of small businesses in the United States did not provide health care benefits to their employees in 2006. In Texas, the rate was 68 percent. Of course, offering no health care benefits seriously affects the ability of business owners to hire and keep quality long-term employees.

What options do small business owners have? The option that makes the most sense to me is to “develop” employees who rarely get sick. Most people are unknowingly setting themselves up for costly chronic disorders. With appropriate employee education, guidance, and encouragement, business owners can help their healthy employees prolong their good health and help their chronically sick employees become healthier.

Traditional wellness programs offered through conventional healthcare insurance include:

Weight loss programs,
Gym membership discounts or on-site exercise facilities,
Smoking cessation programs,
Personal health coaching,
Classes in nutrition or healthy living,
Web-based resources for healthy living, and
Wellness newsletter.

In subsequent blogs, I will address effective health-improvement programs that go well beyond those listed above. Developmental programs in the greater Houston (Texas) area have shown very encouraging results. It appears that these programs, if adopted by employers, or even individuals, will hold down long-term health insurance costs and improve the long-term health of their employees.

If you would like to explore these programs for youself or your business, send me an e-mail at [email protected].
« Last Edit: November 18, 2008, 10:42:38 AM by JC Spencer »