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Dan Memmott is the chief financial and administrative officer for HealthInsight, and has served as chief financial officer at HealthInsight for 28 years. He currently oversees the corporate finance, human resources, information technology and communications departments, as well as the corporate compliance, contract management and administrative services functions. Dan received his Master of Business Administration degree in finance from Indiana University and has nearly 40 years of business management and leadership experience. He is a past chairman of the Finance and Human Resources Network of the American Health Quality Association (AHQA). He currently serves on the board of directors of the AHQA and on the board of Phoenix Services. He previously served as treasurer on the boards of the Great Basin Public Health Leadership Institute and the James Q. Cannon Memorial Endowment. Dan and his wife, Jeannette, have four children and eight grandchildren.

Saving for your Retirement – and your Health

Piggy bank with money

When it comes to satisfying our immediate needs and desires versus focusing on important future needs, the here and now usually wins out. And whether it's saving for our future retirement security or taking important, incremental actions now to achieve better, future health security, our innate, psychological tendency is to prioritize the present over the seemingly far-away future. People tend to allocate their limited time, resources and attention to immediate, pressing events, rather than focusing on important things that will happen at some much later point.

What can make wise behavioral health actions even more challenging than saving money is that the hoped-for improvement in our future health outcomes is much less tangible and predictable than, say, the size to which one's retirement fund balance will grow over time.

Here are a few ways that you can motivate yourself to act sooner in your own, long-term interest - whether your goal is a healthier retirement nest egg or achieving better health throughout your retirement years.

Envision the Future

Academics and behavioral psychologists are discovering ways that you can change your point of view and thereby create essential tension you will need to change your behaviors.

In one study, researchers at Stanford University were able to make the future feel more vivid, real and immediate by "age-morphing" photos of study participants into avatars of their older selves. (Just what we all want to view, right?) When those participants stared their future, aging selves in the face, their short-term perspective shifted. They became much more motivated to save for the future.

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Sustaining Medicare into the Future

Group of Seniors

Fifty years ago this summer (1966), the federal Medicare program was born. For the very first time, guaranteed health insurance coverage and benefits were in place for seniors 65 and older. To date, nearly 140 million Americans–retired or disabled–have relied on the retirement security and benefits of Medicare. Few would disagree that this program has blessed the lives of our parents/grandparents and markedly reduced the poverty rate among seniors. If you are a baby boomer like I am, you also recognize the fact that Medicare will need to play a vital part in our strategies to not only survive, but to enjoy our retirement years.

Fast forward to 2016: Medicare's sustainability and future success in providing health care coverage and access will be challenged by some serious, growing fiscal concerns. One might call the drivers of these concerns "inconvenient trends". They include:

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The Alien in My Neck

Measuring blood pressure

In director Ridley Scott's iconic 1979 sci-fi horror film "Alien", a rather gruesome, extra-terrestrial creature suddenly and violently bursts from the chest of a crew member on a deep space mission—a scene as vividly unforgettable as it was unexpected.

A few months ago, I had a somewhat similar experience ... albeit mine occurred in an outpatient surgery center, and the circumstances were a bit less dramatic. Let me explain.

Last summer, I attended our annual wellness screening event at work. Happily, all my lab values—glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, etc., as well as my blood pressure—were in favorable ranges. My wellness "Health Score" was excellent! Even so, in the months after the screening I had a recurring impression that I should get an annual medical exam with my primary care physician. After initially resisting the impression, I finally set the appointment.

As I fully expected, the outcome of my exam was very positive: no health issues or presenting conditions. "Fit as a fiddle." Then, just before ending the exam, the doctor decided to check my neck. "Oh ... you have a mass on your thyroid. Pretty large, actually." I had no idea.

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Achieving Our “True North” Vision for Health Improvement

Compass

Just two weeks ago in the beautiful setting of Santa Fe, New Mexico, we met for our annual board retreat. The retreat included HealthInsight's four boards, senior staff, and the invited boards of three other health improvement organizations whom we count as partners. We came to learn, to share, to envision and to consider new plans and approaches.

Over the course of two days of meetings, something special and significant seemed to happen. Perhaps the best way to characterize the outcome of the retreat is that this group of almost 100 leaders-already highly engaged and committed to achieving better health outcomes for our communities-became even more committed; even more motivated to fully realize transformational change. The level of rapport and engagement was palpable and energizing!

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What Does HealthInsight Do, Anyway?

Peopl at a meeting

From time to time at HealthInsight, we engage in a little exercise to develop and define what we refer to as our "elevator speech." We try to think about how we could, in the 30-second time span of an elevator ride, best and most succinctly answer the question, "What does HealthInsight do?"

As you might imagine, HealthInsight does a whole lot of things in the field of health and health care improvement, and distilling a description of our work down to a clear, concise response to this question is neither obvious nor easy to summarize in a sentence or two -- the way it might be if we were, say, a law firm or a hospital. While we may continue to struggle to craft the perfect elevator speech response, we can point the reader to some recently published information that helpfully describes important work that we perform as the federally designated Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) for Medicare in the states of Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Utah. This report illustrates the kinds of things we do to improve health and health care.

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The Power of Prevention

Mountain Climber

Over the years at HealthInsight, we have worked hard to contain the spiraling cost of health care. We have changed benefits and provider networks. We've added a high-deductible Health Savings Account option to encourage consumer-driven choices. We've retained a skilled broker/adviser to continually analyze the market and put our insurance plan out for competitive bid. We have changed our insurance carrier three times to hold the line on costs. This year we even made the big move from traditional health insurance coverage to becoming self-insured for the first time.

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Wellness and Healthy Living: Putting Theory into Practice

exercise

In many circles today, wellness—healthy living—is gaining growing support. Many are now embracing the idea that our personal health, and the health of our communities, is not predestined or unalterable. Yes, genes matter. Yes, health care access and treatments matter. But so do behaviors. In fact, when it comes to maintaining and improving one's health, there is much that each one of us can control.

It’s true: We’re all growing older. And as we age, we tend to become less physically able—health issues arise, and some do not go away. However, the core premise of healthy living theory is that sustained actions and small but important behavior changes over time—exercise, stress reduction, proper nutrition, appropriate medication use, etc.—can improve one’s health status and thereby the quality, vitality and enjoyment of life. We all know that life expectancy has increased dramatically over the past century, but so have the incidences and extent of obesity and chronic disease, as well as debilitation/frailty in the last years of life. As it turns out, the quality of life—how well we live, our strength and vitality, how many preventable health care interventions we can avoid along the way—is perhaps more important than the quantity of life (the number of years we actually live).

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Bending the Health Care Cost Curve: An Employer’s Perspective

 

iStock 000002502824MediumThe Health Care Cost Tsunami

Health care insurance coverage has long been the single largest employee-related expense for US companies. Costs have risen sharply over time, with double-digit annual premium increases a common experience. And the mounting cost burden doesn’t just fall on the back of employers. Employees also feel that inflationary pain—even more so whenever benefits are scaled back and premium increases shifted to employees.

The “Affordable” Care Act (ACA), while laudable in its aim of expanding coverage to the uninsured and underinsured, will not drive down health care costs. It has little in the way of significant system or payment reforms. In fact, with its labyrinth of requirements, hidden costs and expansion of mandated benefits, the ACA has so far mainly served to increase employer frustration and add fuel to the inflationary fire of private insurance plan premiums.

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