Employers are on the hunt for some fresh approaches to containing employee healthcare costs. Medical inflation and utilization are both expected to increase this year. And debate seems to continue around the American Health Care Act (AHCA). So most companies recognize they need new strategies that move beyond tweaking plan designs and adding HDHPs.
For years wellness programs have been included in many organizations’ healthcare cost containment methods and goals. Incentives have been offered to increase participation, yet many companies have had a hard time proving ROI from their wellness efforts.
In search of something new, some organizations have shifted their interest to genetic screening as an idea for saving on employee healthcare costs. Until recently though, two laws, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, has made it impossible to even ask workers to undergo genetic testing.
A bill introduced this spring called the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act looks to allow employers that offer wellness programs the ability to include genetic screening requirements. Genetic screenings, for example can be used to help employees identify if they are at risk for various types of cancer. Then, those employees can receive more intensive testing to spot warnings signs of cancer and catch it early.
The bill would let employers charge workers up to 30% higher premiums if they refuse testing. It was passed by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and remains to be seen if it gets to the House floor.
Potential Screening Outcomes
Employers will have to determine if they think genetic screening would generate healthcare savings. For instance, if an employee is identified as having the pancreatic gene he or she may potentially do costly screenings and testing every year. Companies would need to think through all the variables or outcomes that come with genetic screening.
In the future, organizations will have to determine if this path fits with their culture and has the potential to yield the type of results they’re looking for. It’s something they have some time to consider.
Source: CFO. New Remedies. June 2017. PP41-45.