Emergence of the 401(k) health plan?

401(k) healthcare

401(K) 2012

The idea that health insurance might follow the trajectory of retirement finance, with employer-covered insurance moving toward a defined contribution, 401(k)-style approach, rather than the current, defined benefit, Pension-like approach is one I have written about before.

In today’s news (WSJ) is an article describing how a handful of employers are transforming the way they offer healthcare for their employees. Instead of the employer selecting the insurance plans, and offering them to the employee, these employers are apparently giving their employees a fixed sum of money and letting them select their own choice of insurance plan (from a predefined set of choices). In other words, these employers are moving from a defined benefit approach  to a defined contribution approach, just as pensions moved a few decades ago from defined benefits (pensions) to defined contributions (401(k)’s).
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Democratization of healthcare innovation: Stethocloud

StethoCloudHere is a summer story that is a counterpoint to the daily gloom and doom in the news. It’s about healthcare innovation, unlocked by some of my favorite trends: democratization of innovation;  low-cost startups; and the “death of geography”. On reflection, I am reminded of just what powerful drivers of better medicine and reduced healthcare costs these trends can be if they are allowed to flourish.

The story starts in mid-July, when I saw these two thought-leader tweets:

Adding micro-nutrients to Quantified Self

While it’s all doom and gloom when I attend traditional medical device meetings, the group of (often new to healthcare) technologists interested in digital health provide a refreshing contrast. Last week I had the opportunity to interact with a group of impressively pedigreed technology CTO’s who had set themselves the challenge of inventing a new dimension to the Quantified Self (QS) movement: consumer nutritional micro-analysis. [Read more…]

Healthcare reform, and “cheap colonoscopy”

My work last month took me to several conferences and locations, and I have come back with a collection of fascinating snapshots illustrating different ways in which the US healthcare ecosystem is responding to the pressures for change that are being exerted on it. Some are depressing, but some offer exciting glimpses of very positive ways in which the system may transform itself. It’s too soon to draw conclusions, but I am going to capture these different glimpses of the future in my blog as a series of “snapshots of healthcare change“. Here is the first. [Read more…]

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