How the Cleveland Clinic Controls Health Care Costs

October 21, 2011
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Of its own employees, that is:

Of its own employees, that is:

The clinic, however, didn’t give employees a choice. “First thing we said was we had to make our institution toxin free,” Roizen said. “The biggest toxin we have in the U.S. is tobacco. So we began offering free tobacco-cessation programs to our employees. Then we banned smoking on campus. You can’t even smoke in the parking lot in your car. The first offense you get a warning, and the second you get fired. We fired two high- profile physicians who refused to quit. Then they knew we were serious.”   ….The clinic no longer hires smokers.

Food came next. The clinic took out almost every deep-fryer in the building. They removed sugared soda from every beverage case. They eliminated trans fats. On a tour of the campus, I noticed a long line outside a McDonald’s. My guide sighed. McDonald’s, he explained, had a long-term contract that predated Cosgrove’s wellness initiative. The clinic couldn’t throw them out — yet.

The clinic tracks its employees’ blood pressure, lipids, blood sugar, weight and smoking habits. If any of these are what the clinic calls “abnormal,” a doctor must certify that the employee is taking steps to get them under control. Otherwise, no insurance rebate. The idea is to force employees to have regular conversations with their doctors about wellness. If they participate, they can lock in the rates they were paying two years ago. The savings amount to many thousands of dollars.

See full Ezra Klein article.