Sustainability : Managing U.S. Health Care Costs and Improving Well-Being

Managing Costs

Managing Costs for our employees and the Company are a key focus area and GE offers Consumer driven-plans combined with health care tools and resources that encourage our members to make informed decisions. We also offer a broad range of health and wellness programs under our HealthAhead banner as described below.

Improving Well-being

HealthAhead is GE’s culture of health; a partnership with GE employees and their families to help us live and work in the healthiest way possible. GE promotes employee health and well-being through programs in areas including physical activity, nutrition, weight management, tobacco cessation and stress management. We believe that a strong culture of health can inspire our employees and family members to make lifestyle changes and improve their overall health. See below for more details.


Managing Costs: substantially outperforming the national average for employers

We have effectively managed costs by offering:

  • Consumer driven-plans combined with health care tools and resources
  •  A broad range of health and wellness programs 

Since 2008, GE’s average annual health care cost trend has been ~2.5%. This compares favorably to a 5.5% per year average over the same time period experienced by employers, as reported in the 2015 Willis Towers Watson/NBGH Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care.


Health Care Consumerism: resources to promote informed choices and use of quality providers

GE is focused on helping employees and their families become better health care consumers. Our innovative tools and resources are designed to help them make informed decisions and obtain quality care at a reasonable cost. We are constantly improving existing programs and resources, and introducing new ones.  Here are some highlights.

  • New Innovative Center of Excellence (COE) Programs:  GE offers several COE programs for hip and knee replacements, maternity, organ transplants, bariatric surgery, and substance abuse.  GE recently expanded its hip and knee COE to five nationally ranked orthopedic facilities to help members access high quality care from quality providers.  Also, in the fall of 2015 GE launched its first Maternity COE. As with all our COEs, the goal of the Maternity Care Select program is to provide access to high quality local maternity providers and facilities, while simplifying the process and reducing costs for GE and our members.
  • Health Care Hub: In 2015, GE launched a new mobile and desktop application that links to all internal and external health care tools and resources for enrolled members.  It’s a one-stop-shop for quick and easy access to Health Coach from GE, NowClinic, GE Babies, member health plan information, and more! 
  • Telemedicine:  GE health plan members in nearly all states can connect with a clinician 24/7 through a mobile app, website or phone called NowClinic. They can get help with minor illnesses like allergies, seasonal flu, fever, infections and more. For non-emergent situations, this is a convenient and affordable alternative to visiting a physician’s office, urgent care center or emergency room. 
  • GE Treatment Cost Calculator:  We improved the mobile experience of this tool  through a customized smartphone app that helps members find physicians, hospitals and urgent care centers on the go. It also provides real-time comparisons based on quality, cost and location. 

Prevention & Screening: because catching issues early can make all the difference

We place 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, GE encourages preventive screenings in two ways.

U.S. Health Care Benefits:  GE encourages members 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.

HealthAhead program:  Under our site certification program, sites are required to host two onsite screening events each year to drive awareness and compliance with preventive screenings.  This has resulted in increased utilization for flu shots, mammograms, and screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose.


Health Related Absence: a dedicated team to help employees through the process

We have dedicated people and processes in place to manage health-related absences. The goal is to partner with employees to encourage productivity, find ways to reduce days away from work, and ensure a safe return. We also offer Transitional Work Programs to identify opportunities that can help facilitate a timely and appropriate return to full duty. In addition, GE takes steps to ensure that employees understand the non-work related disability absence process, and the proper channels to initiate or report an absence.


Promoting Well-being Globally: Leading the Charge for a Healthier Workforce

When it comes to wellbeing, GE leads by example. We believe engaging employees starts at work with a healthy work environment. This is central to GE’s global culture of health, which we call HealthAhead. It’s a partnership between GE, our employees and their families aimed at living and working in the healthiest way possible.

To accomplish this, GE promotes employee health and wellbeing through our HealthAhead worksite certification programs and digital engagement initiatives aimed at inspiring and supporting employees and their families to take an active role in living a healthy, well-balanced life.

In 2009, GE’s large worksites around the globe began meeting robust healthy workplace requirements. Today, nearly 500 worksites are HealthAhead Certified, including both large sites that are required to take part in the program and many smaller sites who voluntarily participate – impacting over 300,000 employees.  To become a HealthAhead Certified site, teams work to create a healthy work culture by focusing on leadership, nutrition, physical activity, tobacco cessation, and stress reduction, among other topics. Most of the GE population has been positively reached through the program, with employees and their families continuing to engage in local and global initiatives.  Many of these sites work together, streamlining resources and leveraging each other to deliver health programs in a simpler way.  In 2016, we will continue to look for opportunities to both simplify and enhance the Site Certification Program.  


Fostering Leadership & Employee Outreach

At GE worksites, leaders are also health champions.  They lead by example, share their stories, and communicate about health to their employees. Throughout the year, site wellness team also work to promote health programs and tools that enable employees and their family members to take advantage of all that HealthAhead has to offer. With over 300,000 people reached globally, GE employees and their families are increasingly downloading digital tools that help them improve their health.  Leveraging this trend, HealthAhead expanded its digital footprint through our myHealthAhead Anywhere platform, combining goal-setting, personal tracking and other personalized tools that assist employees and their families to live healthier.   GE employees and their families can take part in HealthAhead in their own way at no cost – setting personal health goals, celebrating milestones and tracking their progress along the way.  In 2016, we plan to enhance the personalized digital experience so that individuals can tailor tools and platforms to their specific goals and needs.  


Encouraging Healthy Nutrition, Physical Activity

Through our Site Certification program, GE worksites are required to ensure that at least half of the food and beverage offerings onsite meet HealthAhead’s healthy nutrition guidelines and must subsidize those healthy options by at least 20%.

Similarly, certified sites offer onsite fitness centers or provide discounts and/or direct employee reimbursement towards fitness options. As part of the promotion of physical activity, many worksites run challenges, openly support employee participation in community activities such as 5K runs, charity walks and encourage individual activation by providing state-of-the-art apps and tools.


Strengthening Resilience, Mindfulness and Balance

Since the inception of HealthAhead, GE has promoted a total wellbeing approach as being more than just a checklist of health issues. Each employee is provided with resources and opportunities to work through challenges, improve personally and professionally, and approach life’s ups and downs in ways that work for them. Every GE worksite has access to Employee Assistance Programs and Work/Life balance offerings that are used and promoted in partnership with HealthAhead and HR initiatives. In 2016, HealthAhead will continue to work to better understand needs and deliver programs that reflect a fast-paced, ever-changing world.


Tobacco Free Worksites

Since 2011, our HealthAhead program has worked to ensure that all sites owned and operated by GE are tobacco free.  In addition, GE offers tobacco cessation tools and resources to our employees to assist them. Maintaining tobacco free campuses continues to be a key cornerstone of our wellness philosophy.   



Global Health Risk Mapping

In 2014, GE developed a novel mapping technology with proprietary algorithms for real-time access to relevant, detailed health risk information.   Utilizing crowd sourced methodology, health events described by over 50,000 handpicked sources including news, reports from ministries of health, validated official reports, and social media are aggregated and processed continuously.  In 2016 and moving forward, GE will continue to advance the mapping technology by integrating security intelligence with health risk intelligence into one digital platform and to drive higher specificity and sensitivity.  The comprehensive approach allows constant monitoring of risks faced by our employees, supplier, customers and our businesses globally.  Our goal is to proactively mitigate risk, manage events and protect over 300,000+ employees around the world.


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 has expanded 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 as well as to meet statutory compliance demands regionally.  By providing a lifesaving bridge during the first few critical minutes it takes for emergency personnel providers to arrive, GE is maximizing the probability of survivorship for individuals who unfortunately experience a sudden cardiac event.