Folwell sees parallels with the North Carolina State Health Plan
(Raleigh, N.C.) – State Treasurer Dale R. Folwell, CPA, applauded the announcement that Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan are creating a company to address health care needs for their U.S.-based employees. The companies recently announced that they are creating the new entity “with the aim of improving employee satisfaction and reducing costs." The companies said that by joining forces they bring “their scale and complimentary expertise to this long-term effort", with the ultimate goal of bringing “high-quality and transparent health care [to employees] at a reasonable cost."
“This initiative mirrors our strategy with the State Health Plan for over a year," said Treasurer Folwell. “We want to use our 'largeness' to lower health care costs for taxpayers and participants in the plan. As the largest purchaser of health care in the state, we should be able to do it better and more efficiently."
The State Health Plan provides health care to more than 750,000 members including teachers, law enforcement officers and other government employees. This exceeds the number of domestic employees at the combined Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan and Amazon ventures. While the State Health Plan uses Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina as a third party administrator, it is self-insured, with taxpayers paying for all medical and pharmacy costs. In 2017, the state spent $3.4 billion to provide this benefit – more than was spent on the university system or public safety.
As with the rest of the nation, the state's health care costs have exploded over the past 20 years. Medical and pharmacy costs for the State Health Plan have increased, on average, by between 5 and 10 percent per year.
During Treasurer Folwell's first year, the State Health Plan sought to reduce complexity and increase value for members by creating a less complex enrollment process and freezing family premiums, copays and deductibles. Efforts are also under way to make better use of the plan's data to help understand where money is being spent and how it can be done more efficiently.
“We are in a medical arms race that can only be cured by turning our members into watchdogs over health care costs," said Folwell, who added that he would be watching the new venture closely.
The plan is redesigning member ID cards and Explanation of Benefit statements to make them easier to understand and to reflect that costs are paid by taxpayers rather than Blue Cross Blue Shield, while encouraging members to be more cost-conscious.
Background: The State Health Plan, a division of the N.C. Department of State Treasurer, provides health care coverage to more than 750,000 teachers, state employees, retirees, current and former lawmakers, state university and community college personnel, and their dependents.