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Cutting costs.

Five tips when shopping around to decrease health insurance premiums:

1. Add an HMO to a PPO plan as a core plan. Then the employees should be allowed to buy up to the PPO. Adding vision and/or dental coverage can be done as a trade-off in order to increase the deductible on the health plan.

2. Change your plan from a traditional or major medical plan to a managed care plan. Doing so can potentially save hundreds of dollars in premium costs. Additionally, in the wake of congressional law passed this year, medical reimbursement plans now allow employers to roll over funds in those plans whereas before they had to use it or lose it. This can be a good tool in making higher deductibles more attractive to employees, which will in turn save the employer in premium costs.

3. Look at medical reimbursement and medical savings plans. Look also for customized discount plans (such as those offered by insurance companies and some local and county governments) that offer the option of self-insurance for prescription drug coverage. Look for an insurance agent who can deliver services, such as plan changes, enrollment issues, claims issues, etc.

4. Put in place incentives for the use of generic drugs. A recent industry published report pointed out that generic drug use among Blue Cross Blue Shield members has increased 1.2 percent since the fall of 2001. The increase is notably significant because of the previous four years, generic use had steadily declined. According to the Blues, this increase means a yearly savings of rare than $17 million for its members.

5. Have a high deductible PPO as the core plan, and then allow employees to buy up to other more comprehensive levels as the need is presented. Then they become more in control of managing the spending of dollars for health care.

A three-step ergonomics guide

Review the 'ergo-quality' of your office with these simple steps; then consider adding the needed accessories to make your employees' work environment discomfort-free.

1. Workstation set-up--To achieve good posture at your workstation or desk, you may need to adjust the height of your chair or use a footrest. Installing a standard keyboard manager will bring your keyboard and mouse to an ergonomically correct position if you are seated at your desk, while a sit-stand keyboard manager will allow you to type and enter data from a sitting or standing position. Add a gel-filled wrist rest at the base of the keyboard for firm, soothing support and redistribution of pressure points.

2. Equipment positioning--When sitting at your computer, place the entire viewing area of the monitor between 15 and 50 degrees below horizontal eye level, with the monitor top tilted slightly up and away. The optimum eye-to-screen distance is at least 25 inches. To achieve optimum positioning, consider using monitor risers. Take a look at the other equipment you use daily--are you stretching and straining to reach the phone? Are you craning your neck to hold the phone in place between chin and shoulder? If that sounds like your regular routine, give your communication set-up a one-two upgrade by adding a phone stand and a phone headset.

3. Lighting--Too much lighting and you have glare on your monitor; too little and you may be dealing with eyestrain. Eliminate glare with adjustable window shades or diffusers on overhead lights. Add an anti-glare filter to your computer to reduce the glare from surrounding lights and enhance the image contrast.

Source: Office Depot, Business Services Division

Health care Resources

The Michigan Chapter of HIMSS (MI-HIMSS) is an association of individuals who are organized to improve information systems management in health-care institutions and related health-care organizations, www.mi-himss.org

The Great Lakes Division of the American Cancer Society offers a free worksite wellness program called ACS at Work to businesses throughout Southeast Michigan. Participating businesses choose from a menu of fun and educational programs, which offer physical activity, messages of nutrition, cancer information, smoking cessation and opportunities for community outreach. For more information, contact a local American Cancer Society representative at (248) 557-5353.

Health care weblinks

These Websites offer a wide variety of information related to health care:

www.americanheart.org--American Heart Association

www.bcbsm.com--Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan

www.personalpath.com--A useful personal health-care guide for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan/Blue Care Network members

www.cancer.org-American Cancer Society

www.dmc.org--Detroit Medical Center

www.hapcorp.org--Health Alliance Plan

www.michigan.gov/mdch--Michigan Department of Community Health

www.health.gov/nhic--National Health Information Center

www.henryford.com--Henry Ford Health System

www.oakwood.com--Oakwood Healthcare Inc.

www.stjohn.org--St. John Health System

The Chamber's role

By Sebastian Wade

Many, employers are desperately trying to maintain health-care coverage for their employees amid a deepening crisis, which will likely mean another 1% to 22-percent increase in health insurance premiums.

The Detroit Regional Chamber, through its Health Care Stakeholders Initiative, is actively working on several key issues of importance to employers. The issue of prescription drugs, ill particular, is receiving considerable attention.

To address this issue, the Chamber is teaming with Michigan for Affordable Pharmaceuticals (MAP), a voluntary organization comprised of employers, unions, health-care providers and healthcare plans supporting specific reform initiatives designed to contain pharmaceutical costs while ensuring access and quality.

The Chamber and MAP are targeting two critical components of this issue:

* Generic drugs--The Chamber partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in a campaign to promote the use of less expensive generic equivalents when possible (see page 62 for more details on this campaign).

* Direct-to-consumer advertising--As the volume of advertising continues to increase at unprecedented rates, MAP believes such promotions raise consumer safety issues, including inappropriate demand for advertised drugs.

Sebastian Wade is director of public policy at the Detroit Regional Chamber. For more information on how you can get involved in the Chamber's health-care initiatives, call (313) 596-0399 or e-mail: swade@detroitchamber.com.

Many of the ergonomics products cited in this article are manufactured by Fellowes Inc. and are available through Office Depot, Business Services Division, as part of a special program sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber. For more information on these products, contact Bob Bowers at (313) 596-0369 or e-mail: rbowers@detroitchamber.com For additional ergonomic tips, visit www.fellowes.com.

For easy access

to all Websites listed in this section, visit the Detroiter online at www.detroitchamber.com. Click "Detroiter" on our home page and go to: Health Care Web Links.

James K. Ralph Jr. is president of James Ralph & Associates Inc., a member of the Detroit Regional Chamber.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Detroit Regional Chamber
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Health Care
Author:Ralph, James, K., Jr.
Publication:Detroiter
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2002
Words:1097
Previous Article:Smart boards.
Next Article:Success story: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
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