Searching For A Health-Insurance Cure
November 1991 "If the job of developing a fork had been assigned to a bunch of engineers, we'd still be eating with our hands."
-- Thomas H. Miles, CEO of Park Engineering Associates, describing (in a moment of frustration) how difficult it can be to get engineers to stop tinkering with a product design
It should be no surprise that one of the most innovative responses to the health-care crisis is coming from Quad/Graphics, the printing company based in Pewaukee, Wis., whose innovations have earned it much ink over the years, in this magazine especially. "The gist of our program," explains founder and CEO Harry Quadracci, "is simple. We're eliminating third-party pay and contracting directly with health-care providers -- doctors and health facilities -- just as we would with any other vendor." Doctors who agree to become "suppliers" to Quad's program (after an intensive screening) receive a guaranteed patient base from the company, don't have to worry about billing, and get paid weekly, thereby eliminating the cash-flow problems associated with third-party-pay systems. Quad employees who use the program for all their medical needs get 100% of their expenses paid for. "This is an experiment," says Quadracci. "Make no mistake about that. We're inventing the system as we go. But if it fails, it will be because the program doesn't achieve the desired economic result -- which is to hold down health-care expenses, not even to reduce them. It won't fail on a medical level because we are making sure the system delivers superior medicine to our employees."