The Boeing Company has decided to pool employees from three locations, Charleston, South Carolina; St. Louis, Missouri; and Seattle, Washington to continue to provide quality healthcare options for its employees. This initiative started not as a cost-cutting measure, rather a way to stop healthcare cost increases. Boeing proactively pursued healthcare systems that would provide their employees premium services without costing them more than their previous provider plans.
Narrower Network Provides Lower Costs to Employees
This narrow-network plan requires workers seek primary care from a limited selection of doctors, laboratories, and hospitals. In return, employees will see a decrease in their premiums, pay nothing for generic drugs, and have zero costs for primary-care office visits. This isn’t a health insurance plan being forced onto them, but an added option amongst their current healthcare provider plans.
Boeing Negotiates Healthcare Plans for Employees Directly
Companies tend to hire consultants to broker healthcare plans and prices for their employees. Bucking business trends and previous company policy, Boeing negotiated directly with providers in the three cities that their employees are located. Mercy met their needs in St. Louis, Providence-Swedish Health Alliance in Seattle, and Roper St. Francis Health Alliance for the Charleston area.
Boeing’s Large Employee Base Provides Leverage with Healthcare Systems
Due in part to Boeing’s market share and value as a business, healthcare systems see the need in winning their business. With over 25,000 employees in California, Pennsylvania, and Texas, expect to see Boeing commit to narrow-network options for their workforce there as well. They have the incentive of cost-cutting while maintaining their employees satisfaction through various methods of measurement.
Healthcare Plans Are Important to Labor Organizations
In many union shops healthcare benefits are critical to labor negotiations. Due to this bureaucratic process only non-union workers have been given access to these new narrow-network plans. As a result of trying to find equal trade-offs for their workers, unions have hired their own consultants to explore alternatives that don’t compromise access to healthcare providers.
Cutting Costs While Still Providing Quality Healthcare
Boeing has shown that employers can negotiate directly with healthcare systems to provide lower costs to themselves while still providing exceptional options for their employees. The current estimate is that 2% of businesses directly negotiate, with that expected to increase to 10% by the end of 2016. The fiscal bottom line for every company is written in stone, greater costs means fewer full-time employees, so seeing a larger corporation proactively pursue a means to rein in costs without compromising quality is a positive.