What They’re Watching: Brenda Gleason, M2 Health Care Consulting

Brenda Gleason is the President of M2 Health Care Consulting. She joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss keeping insurance premiums affordable.

“I think in Washington health care, first of all [Washington is] one of the most innovative places in the country as far as really trying to address health needs of patients and of communities. So, you know, you’re cutting edge on your Accountable Communities of Health, you’re cutting edge on trying to integrate behavioral health into physical health systems, and really thinking about social variables of health and thinking about meeting the patient where they are. That’s very exciting.

At the same time, you still do have health insurance premiums that are going up. I’m a small employer, for instance, (in Colorado not in Washington) but this is the sort of thing that you have to also fix the health insurance side not just the health care delivery and health care access side which I think Washington’s made strides. So standard benefit design, for instance, is something that has been considered in Washington State and something that probably could really help with lowering premiums and making it easier for small businesses, for instance, to afford insurance.

Colorado has one of the highest health care costs in the United States and it’s particularly around premiums. Part of this has to do with just a geography problem, not unlike Alaska or other places where you have very expensive parts of the state and very inexpensive [parts]. And the state’s really been struggling with how to get to solutions. One of the solutions, for instance, could be standardized benefit design or doing something that would allow more people to buy into a broader pool. So, something like a public option which I know the governor is looking at. We have to be able to spread risk along a broader range of people in order to really get some of these health care premiums to go down.”