Governor Chet Culver plans to consult with insurance executives, union officials and experts in the health care industry to try to devise a new plan for state employees that would reduce costs by focusing on the best way to manage chronic diseases.
"For the 60,000 or so state employees and their families, we’re going to try to…help them improve their quality of life, become healthier by taking preventative steps," Culver says. Part of the plan would include screening to detect early warning signs, like high blood pressure or high blood sugar levels that could eventually lead to bigger problems down the road. It may include bonuses for employees who get healthier by, for example, losing weight or lowering their cholesterol levels.
"If you know you have high cholesterol, if you know you have high blood pressure now and you’re 30 years old maybe you can take some steps in a preventative to avoid having a massive heart attack or a stroke," Culver says. The state currently spends three-hundred million dollars ($300 million) annually to provide health care insurance to state employees.
"We want to look at significantly reducing our health care costs," Culver says. "I believe we can save millions and perhaps tens of millions of dollars by taking these preventative steps." In his "condition of the state" message earlier this month, Culver cited the work the city of Ashville, North Carolina did to reduce health care costs for its employees by focusing more on prevention rather than treatment of health conditions once they’re out-of-control and causing major problems, like heart attacks associated with long-term high blood pressure and amputations associated with advanced diabetes.