Did Ratner Industries uncover the secret of health care cost reductions?

To kick off our open enrollment period two years ago, we at Ratner Industries held a company wide employee meeting. There we dusted off our brand new offering of a high deductible plan option. To get a rough idea how many employees planned on electing each option we offered free bags of M&Ms to employees as they left, requesting that those leaning toward the high deductible option each take a bag of peanut M&Ms, while those remaining in our standard plan were asked to take only traditional M&Ms. About equal numbers took bags of each of the two kinds of M&Ms.

We just ran some claims data (fully risk adjusted, of course) for the first full year under these plan choices. We found that those who received peanut M&Ms had 12% lower utilization of services overall compared to those receiving traditional M&Ms.

Have we have proven the power of peanuts? Caiaphas, a commenter, has suggested that this a case of borrowed valor, with the HDHP plan having done the hard work for which the pro-peanut caucus has “improperly” taken credit. Caiaphas’s anti-peanut bias is evident.

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