(Reuters) - Companies, unions and government agencies presented U.S. President Barack Obama with some of their ideas to reduce their healthcare costs on Tuesday.
“Part of what we want to do is lift up best practices so other companies can identify and potentially implement them,” Obama told reporters after the session ended.
The United States has the costliest healthcare system in the world and employers complain that the burden of providing healthcare hurts them in the global marketplace.
Following are some of the employers that met with Obama and the approaches the White House says they have implemented to lower the cost of providing healthcare for workers:
* Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union Welfare Fund - The fund provides bonuses to high-performing doctors and tells patients about physician performance. It offers incentives to encourage pregnant patients to get prenatal care, has worksite pharmacies that give out free generic drugs and care centers for workers and family members who have complex, expensive chronic conditions.
* Johnson & Johnson offers disease management and prevention programs. It has a variety of exercise options, including office treadmills and pedometers. Since the late 1990s, smoking has declined to 4 percent of the workforce from 12 percent and the incidence of high blood pressure has dropped to 6 percent from 14 percent.
* Microsoft creates personalized health goals and has a staff of doctors that makes house calls to avoid emergency room visits. Its obesity program assigns employees to a primary care doctor, a behavior health specialist and a nutritionist, and provides free healthful meals.
* Ohio offers state employees online and telephone health assessments, health coaching, an online health improvement program, on-site employee health screenings, preventive care, chronic condition management, and up to $100 for individuals and spouses who complete a health assessment and participate in a health improvement program.
* Pitney Bowes offers onsite comprehensive health clinics and fitness centers, redesigned food merchandising and prices in their cafeterias and cheaper drugs for chronic diseases. It has also adopted infection control practices and offers inexpensive or free preventive screenings and immunizations.
* Retailer REI offers employees support for outdoor activities ranging from outdoor gear and apparel discounts to free rentals and outdoor challenge grants. Employees can earn extra healthy lifestyle dollars to put toward the cost of coverage by engaging in specific “good behaviors,” such as getting regular aerobic exercise.
* Safeway rewards employees for healthy behavior and encourages them to follow recommended treatments for chronic diseases. Participants are tested for cholesterol, blood pressure and weighed, and those who score well pay lower health premiums. The company has a free fitness center at its headquarters, offers gym membership discounts and provides a 24-hour health hotline.
Editing by Maggie Fox and Eric Beech
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