Aon to empower self-insured employers with clear prices and quality data
Professional services firm Aon announced Thursday it has partnered with two companies to provide cost and quality information to self-insured employers so they can better negotiate surgical prices with providers. This is the latest move by employers to seek out innovative solutions to lower healthcare spending as costs rises.
Aon has collaborated with Amino, a company that provides consumers with healthcare cost information, and MPIRICA, a start-up that uses CMS data to illustrate surgical outcomes for roughly 123,400 U.S. surgeons and nearly 5,000 hospitals.
The partnership allows Aon's self-insured employer clients to leverage cost and quality data when it contracts with providers. Its become more common for large and even small companies to shift to self-funded health plans with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The insurance pool now includes sicker, costlier individuals so employers with healthy, low-cost employees are incentivized to switch to their own plan.
The hope is that with the additional data, employers will be able to select hospitals and physicians for their employees at the lowest cost for the best quality, said Todor Penev, leader of actuarial innovation at Aon which has about 3,000 clients.
"We want to use the data to provide an independent benchmark of what is happening in their market so employers can be better informed about who they should partner with that can deliver the best combination of cost and quality," he said.
About 28% of employers currently have benefit design packages that incentivize employees to use high quality hospitals or physicians, according to research from Aon, which surveys its employer clients. And 58% of employers are interested in such a strategy in the next two to three years.
Aon will present the data from Amino and MPIRICA to its employer clients that consult with Aon on benefit design packages. Employers will likely use the data for expensive, common procedures with a lot of variation in cost and quality depending on the hospital or physician, Penev said. The data is currently limited to metropolitan markets because that is where information is most robust. Aon hopes to eventually expand the data offerings to maternity care.
Very few employers are large enough to analyze the data themselves, usually because they don't have enough employees in a given zip code, so they have to rely on outside data companies. "We are trying to bring that (data) to them," Penev said.
Doug Emery, director of benefits innovations solutions at Altarum, said he doesn't expect the partnership to have a big impact. Third-party administrators and health plans can already access this kind of data, and it hasn't made much difference on healthcare costs.
"Until there is a new operating system for transacting benefits and contracts between self-funded companies and providers of healthcare, this can only make a marginal difference," he said.
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