American CEOs are getting an earful on whether to keep or drop health insurance because of the health law, but Chris McSwain, director of global benefits at Whirlpool, said a business case on health coverage should also occur on the employee-family member level.
There is a business case to be made "to help our employees and their family members to understand that they own their health. It’s their personal asset and not the company’s asset," McSwain told attendees on Monday at the annual conference of the National Business Coalition on Health, a non-profit group of employer-based health coalitions.
"If you were to leave your company, you would take with you your health, and you definitely take your health asset with you in retirement. If we can help our employees to understand that their health is their asset and they need to move from managing it in a complacent way to a committed effort, then that is the real business case," McSwain said.
The NBCH event, which was held this week in Washington, D.C., also featured the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, who spoke about the agency’s efforts to adopt regulations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
"As we implement these reforms, we recognize that we can only get to the goal of healthier Americans if we work together. Even the most innovative of private employers and business groups don’t have the reach to do this on their own. We certainly at the government level can’t do it on our own. Implementing health care reform, calls for a collaborative strategy,” she said
Sebelius admitted, however, that the government has sometimes been a drag on innovative strategies on health care championed by private-sector employers. Some business leaders have told her that "they are operating in the 21st century, but too often the public systems are in the 20th century and are pulling back on the kind of initiatives they need to move forward."
The agency continues to work with employers that understand their most important asset is their workforce, realizing that it’s a small investment to give workers the tools they need to make healthier choices. She also pointed out that PPACA makes about 3,000 references starting with "The Secretary of Health and Human Services should …".
HHS is also trying to follow its own advice on wellness and preventative care. At its Washington, D.C. headquarters, "we have encouraged our own employees to get health and wellness checkups, including a cardio-risk profile," she added. If a worker completes such as profile, then he or she receives a free gym membership for a year.
"Today, it’s possible to envision a future where employers are no longer shackled by soaring costs and poor outcomes; where businesses can invest in a healthy and productive workforce; where employees get the right care at the right time, each and every time; and where providers get the right incentive to provide the care that we know works best," Sebelius said.
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