Sustainability: Managing U.S. Health Care Costs and Improving Wellbeing

Managing Costs

Managing health care costs for employees and the Company, as well as, supporting the wellbeing of employees and their family members are key focus areas for GE. GE offers consumer-driven health care plans combined with innovative programs and digital tools to encourage members to make informed decisions, particularly when it comes to health care quality and cost. GE also offers a broad range of health and wellness programs under the HealthAhead banner.

Improving Wellbeing

HealthAhead is an effort to create a culture of wellbeing at GE by partnering with employees and their families to help them live and work in the healthiest way possible. To accomplish this, HealthAhead offers programs that support physical activity, healthy nutrition, balance, prevention and more. A strong culture of wellbeing can inspire GE employees and their family members to make positive lifestyle changes and improve their overall health.


Managing Costs: Substantially outperforming the national average for large employers

GE has effectively managed costs by conducting pilots, developing innovative programs and building new leading-edge digital tools. The strategy is to support employees and dependents to become informed consumers by assisting them in:

  • Selecting doctors and hospitals that provide quality care
  • Focusing on smart choices through consumer-driven plans, tools and resources
  • Seeking a healthy lifestyle through a broad array of programs focused on health and wellbeing

GE focused 2016 efforts toward health care vendor sourcing, conducting several pilots and updating the benefit plan design. These actions will allow GE to manage increases in average annual health care cost at a rate that compares favorably to other large employers.


Health Care Consumerism: Innovation helps drive informed decisions

GE is focused on helping employees and their families become better health care consumers by constantly improving existing programs and resources, and introducing new ones. Tools and resources are designed to help facilitate informed decisions and obtain quality care at a reasonable cost. Here are some highlights:

  • Health Coach from GE: Since 2006, Health Coach from GE has helped thousands of families make informed decisions about their medical care. Over time, the service has expanded to include benefits and claims support. Approximately 30,000 GE employees and family members use the service each year and have consistently given it a satisfaction rating of more than 90%. Through the service, GE members have received:
    • Clinical support to make more informed health care decisions,
    • Resolution for benefits and claims issues,
    • Guidance to evaluate and arrange for treatment options,
    • Lifestyle coaching to help quit using tobacco, eat healthier, create an exercise plan, lose weight or manage stress and chronic conditions,
    • Confidential referrals to appropriate behavioral health providers through GE’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP),
    • Digital access to online second opinions from leading experts from the Cleveland Clinic, and
    • Assistance with and routing to appropriate GE tools and resources.
  • Center of Excellence (COE) Programs: GE offers several industry-leading COE programs, which provide access to high quality providers and facilities, while simplifying the process and reducing costs for eligible members. Through an approved COE, designated services are covered at either 100% or at a reduced cost. Additionally, travel and lodging reimbursement may be available to those who qualify. Programs include:
    • National Hip and Knee Replacement: Seven nationally ranked orthopedic facilities
    • Regional Maternity Centers: Multiple sites nationwide provide quality care to families
    • Organ transplants: Network of institutions and physicians, nationally recognized for their excellence, and
    • Bariatric surgery: Multiple programs that are designated based on the quality of care they provide
  • GE Babies: A newly designed pregnancy support program and mobile app, which provides access to personalized maternity support, tailored content, tools and resources.
  • Moms on the Move: A service that supports employees who are nursing mothers traveling on business in the U.S.
  • Convenience Care Clinics: GE is offering its plan members access to select pharmacy-based clinics and urgent care centers at negotiated rates. Members can search for more than a thousand locations via a new mobile app.
  • Health Care Hub: GE’s mobile and desktop application links to internal and external health care tools and resources for enrolled members. It is a one-stop-shop for quick and easy access to programs.
  • NowClinic: A telemedicine program available in nearly all states, NowClinic can connect members with a clinician 24/7 through a mobile app, Web site or phone. Meant for non-emergent situations like allergies, seasonal flu, fever, infections and more. This is a convenient and affordable alternative to visiting an urgent care center or emergency room.
  • Innovative Pilots: In 2016 GE Partnered with Warby Parker, one of the world’s leading online retailers of eyeglasses. Pilot participants took advantage of their vision coverage to purchase frames and lenses for little or no out-of-pocket cost. Participants were also offered on-site vision exams at select GE worksites by way of a self-contained mobile vision van to encourage vision screening.

Prevention and Screening: Catching issues early can make all the difference

GE places a strong emphasis on disease prevention, early detection and the importance of following evidence-based, age-specific recommendations on screening and counseling to help employees live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. Members are encouraged to take advantage of 100% coverage in-network for many preventive services. These include annual physicals, recommended cancer screenings, routine gynecological care, well-child care and immunizations. GE’s list follows the U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines to ensure compliance with the Affordable Care Act.


Health Related Absence: New digital platform simplifies the process

GE has dedicated people and processes to manage health-related absences - encouraging partnership, productivity and reducing days away from work, to ensure a safe return. GE has Transitional Work Programs to identify opportunities that can help facilitate a timely and appropriate return to full-duty.

In 2016, a new digital tool was launched that allows employees and HR managers to report an absence claim online, receive text messages, search and view claim information, and make payments securely.


Promoting Global Wellbeing at GE

GE believes that improving the world we live in starts with fostering a healthy work environment. HealthAhead, GE’s global wellbeing program, is about empowering employees and their families to live healthy, well-balanced lives. GE promotes employee health and wellbeing through programs involving getting active, eating healthy, sleeping soundly, quitting tobacco, staying healthy and finding balance. A strong culture of health can inspire employees and family members to make lifestyle changes and improve themselves overall.

To accomplish this, HealthAhead is focused on three key pillars of wellbeing: Healthy Environments, Healthy People and Healthy Connections.


Healthy Environments

Wellbeing at GE starts with safe and healthy worksites. At GE worksites, leaders are health champions. HealthAhead teams collaborate with their leadership to create tobacco-free campuses, provide subsidized healthy food, offer physical activity options, and other events and programs for employees. Families of GE employees are also invited to participate in team events – extending the concept of a healthy environment to their homes.

In 2016, more than 450 worksites were HealthAhead Certified, including both large sites required to take part in the program and many smaller sites who voluntarily participated. Many sites worked together streamlining resources and leveraging one another to deliver health programs. About 300,000 people were reached globally through HealthAhead on-site and digital programming. To become HealthAhead Certified, site teams focused on meeting key metrics in areas of wellbeing, including leadership, nutrition, physical activity, stress reduction and tobacco cessation. For example, HealthAhead has worked since 2011 to ensure that all GE owned and operated campuses are tobacco-free.

In 2017, GE is implementing a reimagined HealthAhead program leveraging a simplified global Enterprise Standard for Healthy Sites and a digital app available for employees and their families. With a strong global culture of wellbeing established over the past 8 years, GE is sun-setting administrative requirements previously leveraged to build a global infrastructure and a deeply rooted culture of wellbeing. Today, site HealthAhead teams are supported by a mentor program, collaborative learning labs, a robust microsite filled with tools, templates, turnkey consumer engagement communication campaigns and more.


Healthy People

A big part of HealthAhead’s reimagination was about making sure that employees and their families have access to personalized tools to help them focus on their wellbeing beyond the worksite. The goal with the reimagined HealthAhead is to ensure that the program is simple, yet even more digital and global.

HealthAhead offers programs, tools and resources that empower employees and their families to jumpstart their wellbeing journey, such as improving physical activity, trying new healthy recipes or seeking ways to find balance in their lives. Site HealthAhead teams promote available programming and resources through turnkey campaigns to encourage employees and their families to take steps toward improving or maintaining their wellbeing.

To support individuals on their personalized journeys, HealthAhead now features a dynamic mobile app in addition to a robust Web site and on-site programming. The app is a centralized place where eligible employees can manage their everyday wellbeing goals, wherever they are and whenever they want. It offers customized tools, including step, food and sleep tracking programs, a personalized progress dashboard, helpful tips, tools and resources, and a fun social feed that connects employees worldwide.

Additional features will be made available throughout 2017, including personal and team challenges, events and new tracking programs. The app is currently available in English, French, French Canadian, Spanish, Portuguese, and German. Ultimately, it will be translated into ten languages and customized for local regions as the year progresses.


Healthy Connections

Partnership and social connection make us stronger. The new HealthAhead web and mobile platforms make it easy to connect with others, build partnerships and have positive social interactions. This includes opportunities to participate in group or individual challenges, partner with colleagues on healthy activities and build supportive social networks.

HealthAhead’s digital strategy includes access to social tools that help individuals link with their colleagues to support each other in an ongoing journey of a healthy lifestyle. It also helps connect GE employees with programs and services that support their wellbeing.


Global AED Initiative

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is the leading single cause of death in industrialized countries, and per the Institute of Medicine, SCA strikes 600,000 people per year in the United States alone. While SCA is age-correlated, it is not age-dependent and can occur anywhere at any time, usually without warning symptoms. Unless aid is rendered immediately, the chance of SCA survival is less than 10%, but studies have shown up to 60% survival one year after for SCA victims receiving immediate defibrillation.

For these reasons, GE continues to expand its global initiative to have automatic external defibrillators across our large facilities and campuses. To promote a consistent approach to quality, the company has also invested in a customized digital platform with eStore functionality to manage devices, consumables, first-responder training, and incident reporting. Furthermore, drill tool capabilities will be expanded, creating integration with GE’s Medical Scorecard that continue to meet statutory compliance demands regionally. GE’s global AED program provides a lifesaving bridge during the first few critical minutes it takes for EMS providers to arrive, maximizing the probability of survivorship for individuals who unfortunately experience a sudden cardiac event.