Health Benefits Trust featured in New York Times Op-Ed

On Wednesday, May 6, The New York Times published an Op-Ed by Ezekiel J. Emanuel highlighting the innovative work of SEIU Healthcare NW Health Benefits Trust in partnership with Group Health to improve the use of health care by Home Care Aides in Washington state.

Emanuel touted the Health Benefits Trust strategy that goes beyond insurance coverage and works to engage members in behavior change to improve health and lower avoidable ER costs. The joint effort has reduced ER use by a subset of the trust 27 percent over the past four years.

From Ezekiel J. Emanuel’s Op-Ed: 

“…the Seattle partnership shows that it is possible to engage – and change the behavior of – even the most difficult-to-reach patients. Probably the most unusual aspect of its program is paying patients to do something that is good for them. A $100 incentive may not seem like much, but for low-income workers making an average of $12 an hour, it is the equivalent of a day’s earnings. By persistently educating patients, the program has helped them effectively navigate the health care system.

Read the full article 

Program strategies include: 

  • A $100 incentive program for completing a health profile with Group Health, a preventive care visit, and a dental cleaning
  • The “Care Begins With You” email, video, and print campaign to increase awareness around preventive health
  • Increase in ER copays to $200 while keeping urgent care visits at $15 (ER copay waived if admitted to the hospital)
  • Direct mail reminders about urgent care centers after a member visits the ER for a potentially avoidable reason
  • Individual case management for high utilizers of ER care

View examples of work referenced in the article: