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While few would argue with employers’ desires to contain healthcare costs and get the greatest value for their dollars, just how to achieve those results is a matter of debate. And given recent evidence showing that across-the-board increases in prescription drug co-payments can actually lead to a decrease in employees using essential medication, it is becoming clear that some efforts to hold down healthcare costs paradoxically have the effect of leading to a sicker–and, in the long term, costlier–workforce. Now Hewitt Associates has launched a tool designed to help employers assess and quantify the cost impact of implementing a value-based healthcare design, beginning with prescription drugs. Hewitt’s Value-Based Design Model allows companies to analyze the compliance effects and financial impact of cutting employee cost-sharing for some healthcare services while increasing cost-sharing in other services. By using an employer’s data of drug utilization and costs, the tool allows them to make clinically desirable plan design changes without increasing company costs.

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