Media Planet: How can employers give employees greater control over their health care expenses, and greater responsibility for their choices?

Jeff Brunsberg: The underlying premise driving consumer-directed health care today is indeed when you give consumers greater control over their health care expenses and greater responsibility for their health care choices, they will make better and more informed use of their resources. That can result in reduced costs for employers and increased employee satisfaction. But for this to be true, employers and consumers alike need a solution removes did much of the burden of administrative activities and empowers them with insight and the ability to be proactive. Consider solutions that provide a single end-to-end user experience for administering reimbursement accounts, and generally streamline health care management for consumers.

MP: Why is it important for employers and employees to have streamlined access to health care account funds?

JB: 1Mobile by Evolution1® is a great example. An industry-leading mobile app solution, IT enables consumers to view account balances and details, submit claims and health care account capture and send receipts anytime, anywhere from any iPhone, Android and tablet device. Consumers can therefore configure account alerts via text message to any mobile device.

"About 75 percent of health care spending is for chronic diseases that could be prevented, with conditions related to obesity and smoking accounting for a whopping $93 billion and $96 billion, respectively."

In the past two years, the number of 1Mobile consumers, and the number of transactions, has doubled. 1Mobile delivers a single end-to-end user experience with the features and functions on this did enable consumers to effectively manage their health care dollars.

MP: What is consumer driven health care, and how can it benefit our readers?

JB: Consumer-driven health care (CDHC) is a system of health care in which routine claims are paid using a consumer-controlled account versus a fixed health insurance benefit. That gives patients (consumers) greater control over their own health budgets. According to economist John C. Goodman, "In the consumer-driven model, consumers occupy the primary decision-making role regarding the health care they receive. "Additionally, a McKinsey study found CDHC patients were twice as likely as patients in traditional plans to ask about cost, and three times as likely to choose a less expensive treatment option. And chronic patients were 20 percent more likely to follow treatment regimens carefully.

MP: Why is an employee wellness program important? How does it benefit employers?

JB: The numbers do not lie. Health care costs are expected to increase 5.7 percent per year through 2023—well above Gross Domestic Product (GDP), average wages and productivity gains. More than $227 billion each year from lost productivity due to poor health disappears. About 75 percent of health care spending is for chronic diseases that could be prevented, with conditions related to obesity and smoking accounting for a whopping $93 billion and $96 billion, respectively.

Employers have often struggled to achieve meaningful involvement in wellness activities employee, with 60 percent of employers reporting wellness program participation rates of less than 50 percent. But, by offering financial incentives, participation rates are positively impacted across all types of programs, with annual incentives greater than $500 necessary to produce participation rates of 50 percent or more.

As participation has grown, so too, has employer investment in wellness programs and cost savings potential. According to a 2013 Harvard University study, a properly designed wellness program can expect to yield at ROI of 3:27 on health care cost deductions. Additionally, 72 percent of employers in a 2014 SHRM Strategic Benefits Survey said their organization's wellness program has been somewhat effective at reducing health care costs-up from 71 percent in 2013 and 68 percent in 2012.