It’s no secret that healthcare costs have become a major strain on the finances of many companies—and individuals—across the country. Organizations at all levels are trying to find ways to save money by either limiting benefits or keeping employees healthier or some combination of the two.
For some major corporations, the situation has become so important that they’ve created a new position: chief medical officer.
Monitoring Medical Needs and Impacts
Banking giant Morgan Stanley is a great recent example. Morgan Stanley has hired David Stark, PhD, to serve as its first chief medical officer, as well as its head of HR data and analytics.
The goal of adding a position like Stark’s is to put some structure around efforts to rein in growing healthcare costs and to find creative solutions toward that same end. Morgan Stanley isn’t the first company to take such an approach.
Recently, business giants Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway announced plans to join forces in an attempt to build technology solutions that will cut healthcare costs.
Putting the Focus on Driving Out Costs
So what kinds of solutions are companies looking at? One is to proactively work with payers to help keep premiums down. While this option isn’t always available to smaller companies, giants like Morgan Stanley may have the financial clout to squeeze some better deals out of their insurance providers.
Another option is to find ways to keep the need for healthcare expenditures down. That typically involves various employee wellness programs like reimbursement for gym memberships, on-site fitness programs, or incentives to stay healthy. Still other companies structure their employee-sponsored plans to push premiums higher, thereby effectively shifting the burden of paying for health care increasingly onto employees.
It may seem strange to hear about a financial company—as opposed to a hospital, for instance—hiring a chief medical officer. But it may signal a growing trend as companies desperately try to contain costs in an ever-changing marketplace.