IBM, Coca-Cola Among Firms Forming Health-Care Alliance

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By Sara Hansard

Feb. 8 — Twenty of the country's largest companies—including Macy's, IBM and Coca-Cola—which together spend more than $14 billion annually on health-care benefits have formed an alliance to improve the way they pay for health care.

The goal of the Health Transformation Alliance (HTA) is “to break with existing marketplace practices that are costly, wasteful and inefficient,” and create better health-care outcomes, the group said in a press release Feb. 5. All together, they provide benefits for 4 million people.

The HTA includes diverse types of companies, including well-known firms such as the American Express Co., Caterpillar Inc., the Coca-Cola Co., E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., IBM Corp., the Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Macy's Inc., Marriott International Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., Shell Oil Co., Pitney Bowes Inc. and Weyerhaeuser Co., according to the press release.

Employers have long struggled to contain health-care costs, which have spiraled upward considerably faster than inflation, and controlling costs while improving health-care coordination and delivery is a major focus.

The group said it will focus on “reforms to the supply chain that are designed to reduce redundancies and waste.” The group will be built and organized in 2016, continuing to recruit new members, and will begin to operate as soon as 2017 with a pilot project to help employees obtain more affordable prescription medicine. The rest of the initiatives are planned to begin in 2018 or later.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sara Hansard in Washington at shansard@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Janey Cohen at jcohen@bna.com