November 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 7 
Special Features

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

How Boeing plans to fight health care cost increases

Boeing's health care strategyThe cost of providing health care to employees has grown at a double-digit rate for four straight years, according to a recent survey.

Premiums for job-based health insurance jumped 11.2 percent in 2004, according to the nationwide survey, which polled more than 3,000 employers. Conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust, the survey predicts health care costs will continue increasing next year.

Boeing expects to see 2004 cost increases around 13 percent, which is actually lower than earlier projections of as much as 15 percent. Recent efforts by Boeing and its employees have helped slow these cost increases, but experts say we have a long way to go to get these cost increases to a more manageable level. Boeing's goal is to ensure our people have access to quality health care at a cost that's affordable. The company's health care strategy, pictured in the triangle diagram above right, outlines how we're framing our efforts to control the drastic increases in health care costs.

Effective health care delivery: How the company improves the health plans themselves is at the foundation of Boeing's strategy.

Each year, Boeing negotiates hard with our major health plan carriers, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna and Aetna. "We evaluate their data, challenge proposed rate increases and hold them accountable to performance and service guarantees," said Scott Buchanan, director of Benefits Delivery Strategy. "And we evaluate the plans on an ongoing basis to ensure they're being as efficient as possible. We continue to reduce the number of health plans that we offer, which helps us leverage our purchasing power and deliver these programs more effectively. Although we've reduced the number of plans overall, in most locations we are still able to offer employees a choice of health plans."

Efficient, high-quality care: The next level up in our strategy deals with providers—the doctors, hospitals and other care facilities visited by Boeing employees, retirees and their dependents. As part of our commitment to quality care, Boeing is a member of The Leapfrog Group, a national coalition of more than 160 public and private organizations working to improve hospital patient safety standards and reduce preventable medical mistakes. Boeing is asking employees to become more involved at this level and take actions to ensure they're getting the most effective care possible.

"By reviewing quality data, asking for second opinions, and preparing questions for doctor visits, we can all help to execute Boeing's healthcare strategy," said Stephanie Bertholf, director of Global Benefits Policy and Strategy. "We know that in many areas, there is limited data available on the quality and effectiveness of doctors and hospitals. As a result, we're working with other large employers and national health care coalitions to make reliable data more publicly available."

To compare quality ratings for doctors, hospitals and other care facilities, Boeing people can log on to TotalAccess (on Then click on the Quick Link for Health and Insurance Plan (in the upper left hand corner). Look for the section called "Find Quality Health Care Using Health Grades."

Care Management: Most of Boeing's health plans offer care-management programs, which provide personalized education and support for people with chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes or coronary artery disease. Offered at no cost to employees and their dependents, these programs can improve quality of life by helping employees and their doctors monitor these types of conditions.

Care-management programs are administered by Boeing's health plans, and participation is voluntary and confidential. Boeing doesn't have access to any patient's health data.

To learn what care-management services your medical plan offers, call your plan through Boeing TotalAccess at 1-866-473- 2016 (TTY/TDD: 1-800-755-6363).

Three big areas where you play a role

Woven throughout all the elements of Boeing's health care strategy are consumerism, cost-sharing and technology—three areas where the company and Boeing people both play a strong role.


Your role: Spend your health care dollars like you would spend money buying a car or home. Perform research, consider quality and understand the total cost.
Boeing's role: Provide the tools, resources and information you need to make informed decisions for you and your family.


Your role: Take advantage of resources available online, such as BoeingWellness. com and the benefit information and quality evaluation tools available on the "Your Benefits Resources" Web site. Active employees can reach it using TotalAccess on All other users can go to and click the Health, Life and Disability Plans link.
Boeing's role: Continue to enhance TotalAccess and its related softwarebased tools.


Your role: Keep your out-of-pocket costs as low as possible. Consider which plan is right for you, evaluate your medical service options, use network providers, and ask for generic prescriptions.
Boeing's role: Continue our overall health care cost control strategies, to help keep total costs down—and ensure our people have access to quality health care at a cost that's affordable for all of us.


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