Self-Insured Employer Health Benefits Strategy Established a Negative Cost Trend While Improving Performance

Popul Health Manag. 2019 Dec;22(6):547-554. doi: 10.1089/pop.2018.0184. Epub 2019 Mar 22.


This case study describes the collaboration between a self-insured employee benefits team and a national health insurance provider to control costs while maintaining program quality and promoting population health. In 2015, Quest Diagnostics well exceeded the full-year expense target for their ∼60,000-life Group Health Insurance (GHI) program. Through proactive changes, physician executive leadership, health plan collaboration, disease-specific population health initiatives, and plan design, Quest GHI annual employer health care cost trend subsequently improved from a year-over-year trend of 5.7% for 2014 to 2015, to 4.6% for 2015 to 2016, to -1.0% for 2016 to 2017, and most recently, 0.3% for 2017 to 2018. The actuarial value of the GHI plan did not decline, and employee cost share also remained unchanged in 2017 and 2018 versus 2016 for the high-performance network option. There was a 3% premium increase for the Preferred Provider Organization option in 2018. A third-party analysis for full year 2017 showed Quest GHI to be 11% more efficient than the mean GHI for programs with a comparable benefit and employee contribution. Early results in 2018 show improvements in the health status of the health plan membership. This article describes an approach for self-insured employers to proactively collaborate with a health plan and pharmacy benefits manager to practice the Triple Aim of improving the patient health care experience and population health while reducing per capita health care spending.

Keywords: Triple Aim; employee health plan; employer health care; reduce health care costs.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cost Savings
  • Female
  • Health Benefit Plans, Employee* / economics
  • Health Benefit Plans, Employee* / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male