As one of the most respected institutions of higher learning in the west, Seattle University knows the value of a good education. With renowned schools of nursing and business, Seattle U also recognizes the value of health care and finance. However, it took an examination of their own balance sheet for them to realize a valuable lesson: Preventive care helps organizations prevent rising health care costs.
A Lesson Learned
Founded in 1891, Seattle U offers more than 60 undergraduate and over 30 graduate programs. To attract top-flight faculty, the school has to offer attractive benefits, including health coverage. However, significant increases in health care costs among faculty and staff gave the school pause. Simply put, the university had to develop a better approach to health care for their employees.
Education is the Best Medicine
Seattle U worked with its health carrier, Group Health (now Kaiser Permanente), to seek more ways to lower the total cost of care while supporting the needs of employees. Not surprisingly, the school whole-heartedly embraced the key component to the approach—education.
The value of proactive and preventive care was reinforced with faculty and staff. Together, school and carrier stressed alternatives to doctor visits, such as the 24/7 Consulting Nurse Service and online diagnoses through online visits. Low-cost activities such as primary care and cancer screenings replaced high-cost activities like ER visits.
Passing the Test: Extremely Low Health Care Cost Trends
The result? Seattle University saw a positive difference in their health care costs. In fact, it was the start of a welcome trend. “We’ve had three to four years of extremely low trends with Group Health,” reports Matt Philip, the school’s director of compensation and benefits. “In fact, there have been a couple years of no rate action at all. I know that stands out in the book of business.”