July 15, 2024

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Commonwealth Fund creates employer-based health insurance task force

3 min read

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The Commonwealth Fund has created a national task force to examine the changes needed to improve employees’ access to affordable healthcare coverage. 

The Commonwealth Fund National Task Force on the Future Role of Employers in the U.S. health system aims to build consensus on market incentives and regulatory changes needed to enhance health coverage in the workplace, ensure access to affordable healthcare and improve population health and care delivery.

The nonpartisan task force is chaired by Peter Lee, senior scholar at Stanford University’s Clinical Excellence Research Center, and Dr. Sherry Glied, dean of the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.

Members include a group of former health industry stakeholders, experts in employer coverage and healthcare thought leaders from a range of institutions such as the Urban Institute, the American Enterprise Institute, Harvard University, UCLA and the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

The task force is staffed by the Commonwealth Fund’s Dr. Sara Collins, and Lovisa Gustafsson.

WHAT’S THE IMPACT?

According to Commonwealth Fund president Dr. Joseph Betancourt, high premiums and out-of-pocket costs are deterring low- and middle-income workers from using their employer health plans to get care, or preventing them from enrolling in the first place.

“This task force will be laser focused on identifying policy options to tackle these barriers and strengthen workplace coverage,” he said.

The task force will consider the following questions:

  • What is the landscape of employer coverage in 2024? What do we know about employer premium contributions and terms of coverage, and about how consumers are faring by industry, firm size and region?
  • What are employers’ current purchasing practices, and what challenges do employers face in ensuring employees can get affordable coverage that allows access to timely, affordable, high-quality care?
  • What are the range and type of policy proposals that might improve the affordability or quality of employer health insurance?

The national task force will meet several times in 2024. Their deliberations will culminate in the release of a blueprint for the future role of employers in the U.S. health system, including detailed findings and recommendations, in 2025.

“While there have been significant changes in the nation’s health insurance landscape over the past 14 years, there has been little attention paid to the critical role that employers play, and will continue to play for the foreseeable future,” said Glied.  “The task force will consider ways to ensure employers are effective in allocating worker compensation among wages and benefits and selecting plans that reflect the preferences of their employees.”

THE LARGER TREND

Half the U.S. population – 157 million people – rely on employer-sponsored health insurance, according to the Commonwealth Fund.

Lee said the nation has made strides in expanding coverage, but more needs to be done to ensure Americans’ workplace coverage is meeting their needs.

“We hope the task force will help chart a path forward to ensure employers make the best purchasing and coverage decisions possible, fostering better health of those they cover and improvements in the broader health system.”
 

Jeff Lagasse is editor of Healthcare Finance News.
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare Finance News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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