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Life Sciences Insights: Reinventing Employee Benefits with Sustainable Change

Dawn Faint

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October 23, 2018

It's no secret that Comcast has a poor track record with customer service. While the company has feigned attempts at reform, they have consistently ranked at the bottom of customer surveys. This year was no different.

You might think that given their lackluster customer experience they would treat their employees with similar neglect. You'd be surprised then, to learn that Comcast is raising the standard for how large companies provide employee benefits.

So, how can top-tier companies follow in Comcast's footsteps to navigate the complicated realm of healthcare and employee benefits?

Comcast leads their efforts based on the belief that, "no one should be required to be an expert in healthcare." They aim to offer employees and their families the resources and support to make the right choices for their individual circumstances.

Spending roughly $1.3 billion a year on healthcare for an employee base of 224,000 has enabled Comcast to keep the cost for employees nearly flat, increasing only about 1% a year, instead of the 3% seen at other large companies. They accomplish this without using the popular corporate tack of getting employees to shoulder more of the rising costs. Instead, Comcast lowered its deductible to $250 for most of its workers.

The creative approach Comcast has spearheaded involves partnering with companies like Grand Rounds and Doctor on Demand to offer second opinions, help find a doctor and to get health advice on the phone.

Comcast not only assembled a portfolio of partners to address employee needs, they created a venture capital arm to invest in the ones they felt held the most potential for success, such as Accolade and Brightside. These two companies aid users in navigating health benefits and act as a financial health platform. They made the decision to be part of the solution, similarly as Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase have with their recent partnership announcement. Though it can be said that self-interest drives their innovation efforts, the result will still be a win-win.

Finally, Comcast decided to maintain an intensity of effort along the journey. Many times, companies will introduce a new solution to solve a long-standing challenge and when it does not show an improvement in the short-term, they cancel it. Comcast should be applauded for their efforts in providing better options for employee benefits and investing in solutions which will benefit others in the future. Hopefully they can someday employ the same tenacity to solve their customer experience issues.


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Dawn Faint
Dawn Faint

Dawn helps companies in the Life Sciences space map their competitive environment, develop intelligence strategies which identify risks, and position them for future growth. Prior to joining Cipher, Dawn worked for many years in the Healthcare space in leadership roles at Cigna, Schering-Plough, Pharmacia (now Pfizer) and Johnson & Johnson companies Ortho Biotech and Ortho-McNeil, and in the Management Consulting space for Right Management.

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