The concept of integrated health care is becoming increasinly important to employers. What can we learn from its early adopters?

So far only a small group of employers have turned to this approach. According to a 2015 study by SourceMedia Research Group and Employee Benefit News, just 16 percent of employers are offering an integrated benefits program that coordinates services and information sharing among health care providers.

Most of the employers in this group are large enterprises (half have at least 1,000 employees; nearly a third have 3,000 or more). This isn’t too surprising, because large employers typically employ benefit specialists who identify and learn about new, innovative programs that can benefit their company. That seems to be exactly what’s happened in this case: While most employers have yet to learn about integrated health care, some larger employers, because of their access to specialists, have been quicker to act on it.

The offerings that are part of integrated programs are wide-ranging. In addition to health care coverage, more than half of employers with an integrated plan also include pharmacy, dental and vision benefits (see Figure 1).

Ancillary benefits offered in integrated health care model

To determine their program’s success rate, these employers rely on several metrics, including medical costs, enrollment levels and measures of employee engagement. Two-thirds of them, for example, measure the effects of their program by tracking medical costs or claims-based savings (see Figure 2).

How employers measure the impact of integrated health care models

And while it’s still very early in the game, 64 percent of these employers report that their integrated health care program is performing well and meeting their objectives.

The question remains, however, whether these employers have integrated their programs as fully as possible and if they are taking full advantage of the opportunity to share data across different disciplines (such as vision and medical) to get the bigger picture of employee health.

We’ll explore this topic in more depth in upcoming blog posts.

integrated health care

Jason Kinzy is a marketing manager at Anthem, Inc., and is responsible for promotion of Anthem’s specialty business (dental, vision, voluntary, life and disability plans) to members, employers and brokers. He has 20 years of health care marketing communications experience.