Value-Based Health Care a Work in Progress

March 10, 2011

Brenda Rood
(262) 373-7756

Value-Based Health Care a Work in Progress

New Survey Examines Multiemployer and Public Employer Value-Based Health Care Initiatives

Brookfield, Wisconsin—A new survey released by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans investigates the ways multiemployer and public employer health plans in the United States are currently using value-based health care and explores the strategies these plans are considering for the future.

The report, Value-Based Health Care Baseline Benchmarking Survey: Multiemployer and Public Employer Plans, represents the first phase of the International Foundation’s multistep project to help benefit plan sponsors implement proven value-based health care strategies promoting health and safety among their plan participants.

Value-based health care (VBHC) emphasizes the importance of organizations partnering with plan participants to create a culture of health in the workplace. Prevention and other health care strategies that are most likely to enhance the health of workers and their families are employed. Additionally, a VBHC plan requires continuous evaluation to determine which approaches are most likely to provide the highest value in terms of individual well-being and productivity while reducing the need for high-cost medical services.

“Value-based health care is not yet well understood by all plan sponsors. For many implementing value-based health care will be an ongoing journey,” explained Sally Natchek, Senior Research Director at the International Foundation. “This survey identifies several areas in which plans are already seeking value, as well as areas with room for growth.”

Wellness and disease management programs are often part of a broader value-based health care initiative. Among survey respondents, half of all multiemployer funds (51%) and four in five public employers (80%) offer wellness initiatives. The most common offerings among those with a wellness program in place are screening and treatment initiatives such as health screenings (76%), flu shot programs (73%), smoking cessation programs (67%) and health risk assessments (62%). A smaller number of organizations offer fitness and nutrition initiatives such as weight loss programs (34%), wellness competitions (28%) and nutrition counseling (25%). A large number of survey respondents, 80%, report that they are likely to increase their emphasis on wellness initiatives in the next two years.

As with wellness program offerings, the presence of disease management programs varies by sector. More than three in five (63%) public employers offer disease management programs compared to two in five multiemployer plans (39%). Across both types of plan sponsors, disease management programs most frequently target diabetes (86%), heart disease (79%), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (53%) and hypertension/high blood pressure (51%).

“Many organizations are offering wellness and disease management programs as a package deal,” Natchek stated. “Implemented together, these programs have been shown to improve worker health, enhance quality of life and lead to cultures of health within organizations.”

With the exception of price information on prescription drugs, most multiemployer and public employer plan sponsors are not providing treatment cost and quality information to participants, a step that would allow plan participants to be wiser consumers of health care services. Only one in five health care plans surveyed provides information on the cost of hospital and physical services to participants. Slightly more than half (52%) of the survey respondents believe a majority of participants would switch to better-performing providers if they understood how care quality varies and affects health outcomes.

Survey respondents identified several barriers to incorporating value-based health care. The multiemployer sector pointed to a geographically dispersed workforce as the biggest hurdle (26%) while those in the public sector stated lack of employee engagement (36%). Despite the challenges, almost two-thirds of survey respondents (64%) are somewhat to very likely to increase their emphasis on value-based health care in the next two years.

“The success of a value-based approach is dependent on plan sponsors and plan participants partnering with each other,” said Natchek. “Plan sponsors need to create cultures of health that enable workers to stay well and help sick people improve their conditions. Plan participants need to be actively engaged in the process of personal health improvement. By working together, plans can find ways to rein in costs while improving their participants’ health.”

About The Survey

Value-Based Health Care Baseline Benchmarking Survey: Multiemployer and Public Employer Plans is available free to International Foundation members as an e-book. Nonmembers can purchase the e-book for $50. For more details, visit

Survey responses were received from 639 individuals representing multiemployer benefit plans and public employer/governmental plans in the U.S. that are members of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans and the International Society of Certified Employee Benefit Specialists (ISCEBS).

The survey is part of the Foundation’s ongoing value-based health care initiative which includes tools for integrating value-based health care strategies into health plans. The project is funded in part by a grant from Pfizer Inc. For more information on the project, visit


The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans is a non-profit organization, dedicated to being a leading objective and independent global source of employee benefits, compensation, and financial literacy education and information. For additional information, visit

Pfizer applies its science and global resources to improve health and well-being at every stage of life. Consistent with Pfizer’s responsibility as the world’s leading biopharmaceutical company, Pfizer also collaborates with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 150 years, Pfizer has worked to make a difference for all who rely on the company. For additional information, visit