Post-Election Conference to Discuss Future of Consumer-Directed Health Care

Published December 1, 2004

A conference taking place in Washington, DC from November 29 to December 1, 2004, will bring together major stakeholders in the consumer-driven health care industry. Employers, providers, the health plan and pharmaceutical communities, as well as leading technology product and technology solution providers, will consider the future of consumer-directed health care.

The Consumer Directed Health Care Conference & Expo (CDHCC), to be held at the Marriott Wardman Park, aims to capture and express the breadth and depth of the rapidly growing consumer-directed health care market: from employers containing rising benefit costs while retaining employees; to health plans creating more flexible and affordable products for employers and consumers; to providers controlling costs while maintaining quality patient care.

Leaders in these communities will gather at CDHCC to discuss new initiatives such as recent legislation accelerating the advancement of HSAs and the latest technological innovations enabling consumers to direct their health care futures.

Bipartisan Agenda

Crossing party lines, Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) recently showed agreement on the steps that need to be taken to improve the quality of health care, including concentrating on prevention and wellness and accelerating the use of health information technology. Kennedy hosted a Health IT summit in Rhode Island earlier this year, where Gingrich emphasized the urgency of these initiatives to prevent deaths due to medical errors, increase quality of care, and decrease overall health care costs.

Recently, Gingrich, founder of the Center for Health Transformation, said, “Returning market power and decision making authority back to the individual–consumer directed health care–is critical to the creation of a 21st Century intelligent health and health care system that offers more choices and better quality at lower cost.”

Speaking about the CDHCC, he continued, “With the implementation of the next generation CDHC product, Health Savings Accounts, starting January 2005, this year’s event is particularly timely.”

Kennedy and Gingrich will further share their outlooks and ideas at CDHCC in “Post Election Health Care Insights & Implications for the Next Four Years,” a plenary session.

Patients are inceasingly concerned about confidentiality, quality of care, and lower costs, as numerous surveys show. In addition, the growing epidemic of obesity coupled with a lack of insurance coverage for weight loss support and surgery are growing concerns for the health care industry. Experts will address those concerns and speak to how the consumer-directed health care movement is delivering cutting-edge technology, consumer choice, and legislation to achieve its goals.

An estimated one million individuals in the United States are enrolled in some form of consumer-directed health care plan. Although that is only a fraction of the total population, the convergence of several factors is causing many analysts to predict the number of individuals enrolled in CDHC could quadruple within the next few years. Those factors include continued escalation of health insurance premiums, growing evidence that consumer-directed plans may be effective in controlling costs, CDHC-friendly legislation on the federal level and in about 20 percent of states, and tax savings for both employers and employees already available under current federal law.

According to analysts such as Gingrich, the answer to the nation’s current health care cost problems is simple–reduce employers’ health care costs by compelling employees to take responsibility for their health and to be more financially aware of their individual health care decisions. As this new era of health care has traveled from theory into practice, more and more companies have turned to consumer-directed health plans as a supplement to a traditional plan or as a complete replacement for the traditional health care plan. Organizations are also interested in implementing custom-designed plans, which allow employees to customize their benefit options and levels for physician, hospital, and pharmacy benefits in the same way they elect their automobile coverage.

Noted Randall L. Johnson, director of human resources strategic initiatives at Motorola and a member of the CDHCC advisory board, “Together with measurement and disclosure of health care outcomes using universally accepted standards, consumerism and pay-for-performance have the potential result of re-engineering the health care system more dramatically than any other changes in the last 50 years.”

First Significant Post-Election Forum

Positioned in Washington, DC just four weeks after the presidential election, CDHCC will be the first significant forum addressing the next administration’s health care agenda, bringing together the health care leadership body to voice the industry’s perspective on the actions necessary to accelerate the transformation of the health care industry.

In addition to Kennedy and Gingrich, other speakers scheduled to participate in CDHCC include John Rowe, MD, chairman and CEO of Aetna, Inc.; Norman Ornstein, PhD, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; Lester Crawford, DVM, PhD, acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Roy Ramthun, senior advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for Health Initiatives; Congressman Jim DeMint, South Carolina; and David Brailer, MD, PhD, national health information technology coordinator and senior fellow for information technology and quality of care at the Health Technology Center.

Leslie Doyle is marketing director of the Emergent Group.

For more information …

on exhibiting and sponsorship opportunities, contact Lindsey Parks, [email protected]. To register for the conference, contact Jennifer Yates, [email protected].