Colonial Life: Three healthcare trends that can impact retail pharmacy in 2012

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Colonial Life and Accident Insurance last week released its top five trends and predictions for health care in 2012 — three of which may have some direct impact on retail pharmacy.

Wellness programs will become more prevalent as a way for employers to control healthcare costs and increase productivity and retention, Colonial Life stated. "With no let-up in sight for rising healthcare costs, employers are increasingly seeing the value of workplace wellness programs as a way to control premium increases and claims costs. Ranging from health screening tools to online nurse services, wellness-related offerings will become a bigger part of benefits providers' value-added services," the company said.

However, the key to seeing a true bottom-line benefit may be as much about employee awareness and engagement as it is about the actual service, Colonial Life noted. "Good communication about wellness programs is essential for them to be effective," Colonial Life assistant VP marketing analysis and programs Steve Bygott said. "Without a focused effort to ensure employees understand the program and its value to them, participation tends to be low."

Healthcare technology also will play a greater role in health care, as employees will have more options for decision-support tools using online technology. "As employers continue to push benefits decision-making responsibility to their employees, look for a proliferation of web sites and interactive tools to help them understand different types of coverage and which ones meet their unique needs," the insurer stated.

And government sector employers in particular will focus on cost containment measures for their benefits plans. "Government employers are strongly feeling the effects of several years of reduced tax revenues, and now find themselves in the unfamiliar position of being forced to reduce benefits or raise their employees' share of the costs," Colonial Life said. "A recent survey of public sector human resources managers showed 80% of them are looking at ways to reduce the cost of their employee benefits plans, and 58% said controlling costs is their top priority for their benefits programs."

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- 9:08 PM
cnahabed says

A generic solution that comprises many of the aforementioned trends and promises the needed benefits are "UNMANNED MICRO CLINICs". Government, Insurance companies and retail establishments should be embracing such solutions to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

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