David won his battle with Goliath because he used tactics that played to his strengths. Can employers do the same?

The David vs. Goliath analogy comes from Robert Galvin, M.D., who will be the speaker at The Alliance Annual Meeting on Oct. 21. Dr. Galvin shared his thoughts about employers as David and broad marketplace forces as Goliath when I heard him speak earlier this year at the Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) conference in Chicago.

Here are some of the highlights captured in my notes:

  • When it comes to consumer wellness, Goliath is represented by companies like McDonalds, which aim a barrage of messages at consumers to persuade them to eat and live in ways that have a negative impact on health. Employers use wellness programs to try to counter these messages, but their efforts lack the heft to have a significant impact. As a result, employers’ time and money is too often wasted because it does not control costs or bend the trend of health care cost increases.
  • Employers can have a bigger impact when they work to correct misaligned incentives in the health system. The current incentives pay more to health care providers when they do more – more tests, more treatments – in a fee-for-service environment. Instead, employers can use their economic power to encourage health care providers to focus on cost and quality.
  • Employers need to keep the voice of the consumer in mind when designing health plans that offer the right incentives. That means creating plans that reflect what employees think of as the healthy approach.
  • Employers can use plan design to create financial incentives to choose the best providers. These incentives must be supported with education and “navigators” who help direct consumers to high-quality doctors and hospitals. Arming employees with information about cost can reinforce incentives.
  • Remember, putting money on the table can help create incentives for change without taking away employees’ choices. When employers align higher payment with higher value, incentives can get employees to high-quality providers.

Dr. Galvin is expected to address these topics, private exchanges and much more when he tells us why he believes “Employers Have More Power Than Ever: Steering the Future of the Healthcare System” at The Alliance Annual Meeting. Register now to join us and learn how employers can come together to use their strengths to gain ground in health care.


  • Learn more about The Alliance annual meeting.
  • The annual meeting is only open to members and the TPAs and agents who serve current members; however, you can read our blog in late October to get the highlights of Dr. Galvin’s presentation.
  • Check into QualityPath, The Alliance’s program that guides employees and family members to high-quality providers for high-stakes procedures.
Teri Van Tassel

Teri Van Tassel

Vice President, Marketing & Product Innovation at The Alliance
Teri Van Tassel joined The Alliance in 2006 and serves as vice president, marketing and product innovation. Her responsibilities include market research, health policy, product development, product management, marketing communications and the public and media relations functions for the organization. Prior to joining The Alliance, Teri served as vice president/marketing for the Credit Union Executives Society.

In addition to her work at The Alliance, Teri serves on the leadership team for a Collaboration Development grant awarded to Mental Health America of Wisconsin, as an advisory council member for the Wisconsin Initiative to Promote Healthy Lifestyles (WIPHL), serves on the Wisconsin Coalition for OpenNotes committee, a product development committee member for the National Alliance of Health Care Purchaser Coalitions and is also a member of the American Marketing Association. Teri received her bachelor's degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Teri Van Tassel