bswift Summit 2011 Highlights Role Employers Play in Changing Health Care Landscape : bswift Press Release

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bswift Summit 2011 Highlights Role Employers Play in Changing Health Care Landscape

CHICAGO, IL — Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

“With health care costs continuing to rise 8-10 percent a year, today’s corporate C-level executives are looking at employer-sponsored health care as a losing battle,” began bswift CEO Rich Gallun in his opening remarks to 150 human resource (HR) executives at the annual bswift Summit at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Gleacher Center. “The key tools for winning this battle include wellness, consumerism and health care reform.”

bswift is a leading provider of benefits administration software and services. The company also built and operates the technology solution for the Utah Health Exchange, a consumer-driven, defined-contribution state health exchange.

This year’s bswift Summit brought industry experts along with HR and benefits professionals from around the country together for discussion, debate and sharing of best practices on the changing way benefits are offered, managed and measured in U.S. businesses today.

Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles, kicked off the event by noting that only 5 percent of health care dollars today are spent on prevention and 75 percent of health care costs result from lifestyle-related causes. He pointed out that wellness programs that focus first on increasing physical activity offer more measurable outcomes and have the greatest impact on preventing the most costly health conditions. He encouraged Summit attendees to create diverse incentives to attract all employees to participate in wellness initiatives and to integrate incentives in order to motivate employees to increase physical activity.

Raymond Zastrow, MD, chief medical officer at QuadMed, a division of Wisconsin-based printer QuadGraphics, spoke about how QuadGraphics’ founder Harry Quadracci confronted the losing battle of escalating health care costs by starting QuadMed, bringing nearly all primary health care services in-house and adding wellness initiatives – eliminating excess costs and bureaucracy in the process. Zastrow emphasized the importance of prevention-focused relationships between health care providers and patients and highlighted the value of technology investments made by QuadMed to facilitate this relationship. He suggested that Summit participants begin to pay attention to disease registries as they ultimately will help health care providers define disease-preventing gaps in care for employees and thereby improve outcomes.

Two HR professionals, Michele Levesque from MaineHealth and Michelle McGovern from Mesirow Financial, offered specific case studies about their unique and well received wellness programs, including examples of incentives that are generating employee engagement. Gallun summarized the wellness keynote saying three critical factors must be part of successful wellness programs, including:
  • a culture of health through effective communication,
  • simple ways for people to participate and engage in wellness, and
  • compelling financial incentives.
Following the morning wellness session, Nate Butki, a consultant with Great Place to Work Institute, moderated a panel discussion on employee engagement. Joining Nate were John Horky, a principal with architectural firm Kahler Slater, recognized as one of the best small companies to work for in America by the Great Place to Work Institute for seven years in a row; Michael Long, head of culture branding for Rackspace Hosting, one of Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work for in America; and Elizabeth Spenko, business designer with IDEO, a design and innovation consulting firm. All three experts shared their corporate stories and agreed that transparency, communication and company-wide collaboration are cornerstones of great workplaces that attract top talent, foster loyalty and generate high levels of customer satisfaction.

Closing the keynotes was a session on how organizations are adjusting to requirements of the recently enacted Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Shannon Demaree and Jo-Ann Gastin, executives from Lockton, the world’s largest privately owned global insurance broker, joined Stephen Hyde, author of Cured! The Insider’s Handbook for Health Care Reform and principal with Stroudwater Associates, to examine the impact and options that organizations face in the changing world of health care benefits. All agreed that the time is now to consider changing from multiple plans to a single consumer-directed, high deductible health plan (HDHP) for all employees, and emphasized that the key to a successful switch is the distribution of saved monies to employees’ health savings accounts in the transition year. Lockton executives shared their story of full replacement to an HDHP, echoing that ongoing, proactive communication and the commitment to sharing the savings with employees helped ensure a smooth and complete transition.

Hyde also spoke out on the need for employers to engage in the dialogue currently taking place in state capitals on health care reform and specifically about the role of, and rules for, health exchanges. As a participant in these discussions at the national level, he noted the absence of employers at the table, and requested that employers and business leaders communicate directly with state legislators and government to help shape practical and cost-effective solutions for health care.

Afternoon breakout sessions provided Summit participants the opportunity to explore each topic in more depth with industry practitioners.

A two-hour session led by executives from Leavitt Partners, a consulting firm that advises organizations in the health care and food safety sectors, discussed the reality and potential of state health exchanges as mandated by PPACA and the impact of exchanges on brokers.

“The way health care is provided is extremely dynamic today and creating deep uncertainty for employers and HR professionals throughout the United States,” concluded Gallun. “Our work with employers seeking technology solutions to simplify the increasingly complex demands in benefits administration and state exchanges gives us visibility into this changing marketplace.  We see what the innovators are doing and strive to share this thought leadership with the industry each year through the forum of the bswift Summit. We are grateful to each speaker for sharing his or her perspective and contributing to an important, vital discussion in our industry.”

About bswift
bswift is changing the world of benefits administration by combining deep expertise and a passion for technological innovation with a unique consumer-driven approach. Partnering with enterprises nationwide and serving millions of employees, bswift offers cloud-based technology and services for online enrollment, interactive decision support, ACA compliance reporting and employee engagement. bswift also provides access to consumerism, product and consulting solutions needed to build a benefits program specialized for both employers and employees alike. For more information about bswift, an Aetna company, visit


Laura Field