Patient looking and form with doctor Plan design should always optimize care to be deliveredclose to or in the home whether it's supporting local, independentmedical practices. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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There comes a certain point in everyone's life where the parentbecomes the child, and the child their parent. I, like so manyothers, sadly experienced this firsthand with my father. He passedaway last year from Parkinson's disease.

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Fortunately, my dad had insurance coverage that was high qualityand supported good treatment. Unfortunately, too many othersdon't—something I've spent many years working to improve.

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Related: Your mom's health insurance could help yourkids

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Now, the experience I had with my father has redoubled mycommitment to help create health plans that put patients first.This is an aspiration shared by so many Americans, who continue toidentify health care as the No. 1 issue they want addressed in the2020 election. In light of that, I encourage benefitsadvisors to consider these principles this year:

1. Hire health professionals who want to, and have the freedomto, do good.

Health professionals have excellent intentions. They want tohelp people live happy, healthy lives, but in many instances,stifling health system administration makes it difficult. In ourcurrent fee-for-service world, many overburdened physicians areexperiencing record levels of burnout and suicide. One study showedthey were spending two hours on administration for every hour ofpatient care. Sadly, in flawed, volume-centric health systems theyhave been turned into glorified billing clerks.

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Value-based physicians, who appeal to patients' desire foraccountability because they're reimbursed according to the qualityof their outcomes, have an increased ability to deliverhigh-quality, thorough and compassionate care. Therefore,value-based care models should be the ones benefits advisors seekout.

2. E-patients are smart but frustrated they can't behealthier.

E stands for equipped, enabled and empowered. Technology is apowerful tool, and communication is even more powerful. By betterleveraging the first, benefits advisors can help value-basedphysicians do more of the second, and ultimately have a moreprofound impact on their patients' lives. Physicians can answerquestions quickly via text, phone call, email or video chat,critical in situations where a loved one is acting as another'scaregiver.

3. Avoid waste.

Nearly half of spending on health care goes to waste. In otherwords, we are paying Cadillac prices for a Pinto health caresystem. The good news is that benefits advisors have the power tocut out unnecessary spending on issues like opioid prescriptionsfor lower back pain, where there is no evidence it is the mosteffective treatment. They can do that by investing in physicaltherapy, mental health and other such services not typicallycovered in status quo health plans.

4. Look local, as health starts at home.

Plan design should always optimize care to be delivered close toor in the home whether it's supporting local, independent medicalpractices or providing tools for self-care, family caregivers andprofessional home care. Local public entities (towns, counties,school districts) can and must become market accelerators and bullypulpits for the relocalization of health because health care costsare intimately linked with all of these vital entities.

5. Trust is built through transparency andopenness.

Trust makes people feel safe and secure, and the moretransparent a benefits advisor is with their client, and theirclient with their beneficiaries, the better. When everyone isclued-in to how and why certain health plan changes are beneficialto all involved, they'll be incentivized to see the changethrough.

6. Human-centered health plans restore health, hope andwell-being.

The final thing benefits advisors will have to do to create ahuman-centered health plan is educate and empower beneficiaries tochoose the option that's best for them. Usually, they'll pick theone that's least invasive, but if it isn't, a human-centered healthplan will still allow them to make that choice with minimallimitations. Why? Because at the end of the day, the best healthplan will protect and respect them and their freedom to choose.

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Somewhere along the way, health care got so complicated that itbecame more of a monster than anything else. Now is the time toslay it, making health care about protecting the people it'ssupposed to serve. Keeping these principles in mind—which shouldn'tbe too hard to do considering the first letter of each spells outHEALTH—benefits advisors will do just that.

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Dave Chase is co-founderof HealthRosetta, which aims to accelerate the adoption of simple,practical, non-partisan fixes to our health care system. He is alsothe author of "The CEO's Guide to Restoring the American Dream: Howto Deliver World Class Health Care to Your Employees at Half theCost."


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