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THE BENEFITS GROUP: EXECUTIVES ADVISED TO FOLLOW FIVE-POINT PLAN TO DEAL WITH GOVERNMENT'S HEALTH CARE REFORM PROPOSALS

 CLEVELAND, Sept. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Health care reform season officially opens tonight with President Clinton's address to the nation. Yet, business executives may be wondering what specific steps they should take now as they prepare their health care budgets for 1994.
 Reid Wagner, a health care consultant to business with The Benefits Group, counsels executives to follow this five-point plan:
 1. Don't wait for reform to be enacted. In all likelihood, Wagner says, government reform of the system won't be fully implemented for months if not years.
 "Many executives think the prudent course is to wait for reforms to be completely put in place, yet they'll lose several years of cost- cutting savings if they wait to follow the government's lead," he says. "They should act today to control their health care costs."
 2. Consider the viability of a managed care solution, built around an HMO or PPO system.
 "These managed care options have proven themselves to be effective cost-control strategies, given the proper environment and structure. Even though we're not sure what the final government reforms will be, it's virtually certain they'll be enacted around a managed care concept. If a business is changing the design of its health care program, it makes more sense to move in the same direction as the Clinton plan is heading, rather than in a direction counter to it."
 3. Bring your employee cost-sharing ratios in line with the new government proposals. Many company-sponsored health care plans typically call for the employee to pay 80 percent of the plan's cost, with the company making up the difference. Companies currently paying more or less than 80 percent should use the time between now and final adoption of health care reform as a transition to slowly bring those subsidization levels in line with likely new government mandates.
 4. Continue cost-control programs such as wellness programs. Wellness and other health promotion programs are proven cost-cutters for companies and should be aggressively promoted, regardless of proposed government reforms.
 "Especially over the long term, wellness programs in almost every instance have passed most cost-benefit analyses in terms of savings and increased employee productivity," says Wagner.
 5. Finally, companies should use this time to increase the frequency and quality of employee communications efforts on health care costs.
 "It's clear that employees as well as corporations will continue to shoulder a significant portion of health care cost increases, whether reform is or isn't enacted. People need to understand why those cost increases are occurring, and what they and their employers can do to limit them. Their ability to contribute to those cost cutting efforts is directly tied to how well informed they are of the issues involved," Wagner says.
 The Benefits Group is one of the largest employee benefit consulting firms in the area. With a client base of more than 250 corporations, the firm is one of Northeast Ohio's fastest growing companies, named to the Weatherhead 100 as one of the top 100 growth companies for three years running.
 -0- 9/22/93
 /CONTACT: Reid Wagner of The Benefits Group, 216-328-1300, or Joel Goldstein of Goldstein Group Communications, 216-398-0030, for The Benefits Group/


CO: The Benefits Group ST: Ohio IN: HEA SU:

AR -- CL003 -- 4507 09/22/93 08:01 EDT
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Date:Sep 22, 1993
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