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The Company That Solved Health Care: How Serigraph Dramatically Reduced Skyrocketing Costs While Providing Better Care, and How Every Company Can Do the Same Hardcover – October 5, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Although the Obama health-care-reform bill did much to address the plight of some 46 million uninsured Americans, it did very little to address the skyrocketing cost increases that are crippling businesses large and small. Many companies are opting to drop health coverage altogether, choosing to pay any fines for doing so rather than face the hyperinflation related to this major expense. With its health-care costs threatening to take down the company in 2003, Serigraph, Inc., a Wisconsin manufacturer, took innovative steps to curtail the costs. By giving their employees a stake in the financial outcome of health care, they cut their costs drastically. Torinus, president of the company, outlines steps that any business can take to achieve similar results, which involve a major shift in behavior on the part of the insured employees. Unfortunately, this requires a plan with a very high deductible and co-pay, giving the insured motivation for staying healthy and not abusing the system. Although this is not a the single idea that will fix the health-care crisis, this approach has great potential for medium-size to small businesses grappling with this problem. --David Siegfried

About the Author

Chairman and general manager of Serigraph Inc., John Torinus Jr. has studied and practiced management for more than 50 years. His company had $40 million in sales annually when he bought it in 1987; it now generates $120 million and has more than 1,000 employees in plants in the United States, Mexico, China and India. Torinus graduated magna cum laude from Yale and was a company commander in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Torinus has served as business editor and columnist at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 210 pages
  • Publisher: BenBella Books; 1St Edition edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935618199
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935618195
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

An economic journalist for 50 years and a business executive as well, John Torinus Jr. decided he had to use both sets of skills to reinvent a business model for the delivery of health care. He led a leveraged buyout of his company, Serigraph Inc., in 1987 and turned it into an international manufacturing company with more than 1000 employees. He was CEO for 20 years and continues as chairman. Torinus graduated from Yale in Industrial Administration and holds a master's degree in International relations from the University of Stockholm. He got his first leadership and mangement training in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as a batallion operations officer in artilllery and as a company commander. He currently serves as chairman of the Wisconsin Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, president of BizStarts Milwaukee and as a director of a dozen for-profit adn non-profit boards. His company has held medical costs to less than a 3% annual increase over the last eight years.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Recent Washington health care reforms have done little to reduce costs - our #1 problem in health care. Instead, the focus was on improving access. John Torinus, chairman of Wisconsin-based Serigraph, took the problem of employee health-insurance cost doubling every eight years into his own hands. (Serigraph is a 61-year-old firm with 450 U.S. employees, 1,700 world-wide, focusing on plastics printing via pressure-sensitive decals, in-mold decorations, and silk-screening.) At the time ('03), health costs were the firm's third-largest expense and headed towards second-largest. Over the last seven years their increases (employer and employee) ave averaged 2.8%/year, vs. a national average of 7% - without cutting benefits. Changes emphasized consumer responsibility, centers of excellence, and a prime role for primary care. Previous efforts (wellness programs, some rationing, participating in a buying group, and cost-shifting to employees) had accomplished little. The firm is now self-insured, saving over $1.5 million/year (about one-third of average expenditures), with costs now split 80/20 with its employees.

In the new plan, employee premiums dropped by about $1,500 to almost nothing, in return for $780/employee in a form similar to Health Savings Accounts, higher deductibles of $750, $1,000, or $1,500 (employee's choice; formerly $300), and 30% in network co-insurance (same as before). Maximum employee out-of-pocket expenditure/year is $3,250 to $6,000.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is basically a case study in Consumer Driven Health Care. The author hammers ad nauseum on the point of "having skin in the game," meaning the patients won't make an earnest attempt to control health care costs if they don't feel the money being spent is their own.

He also drives home the point that when patients truly see how expensive their lifestyle choices are (smoking, being overweight, failing to follow a healthcare regimen recommended by a doctor, etc.), they make conscious choices to improve their health and therefore decrease their healthcare spending.

The major thrusts of his health plan are rewarding patient responsibility and creating a true market for health care with competition based on price and quality. These are things I've been saying for years. I took away two stars because the author fails to address how his health plan affects people who have chronic health conditions that have nothing to do with their lifestyle choices (Type 1 diabetes, epilepsy, allergies, etc.).

The main critics of consumer driven health care believe that families with children with these health conditions will be unable to afford care since the cost won't be as evenly distributed as it is under traditional health plans. This may or may not be true, but the author of this book didn't address it at all. I would think with the number of employees on his plan, he would have had experience with childhood diseases and "bad luck" and could shed some light on this situation.
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Format: Hardcover
Every consumer of health care should read this book. It will change the way you look at your doctor, health care provider and insurance company ... and not in a good way but in a way that you can start to understand what is being done to us.

Mr. Torinus bursts the bubble of costs and quality revealing the inner workings of our flawed system. Surprisingly, he does not only endorse his method as the solution but offers several different working plans that address the high cost of health care.

An insightful read well worth the price. I bought a copy for our HR director.
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Every executive or HR manager in self-insured plans with high deductibles should read this book. The book is a fast read and implementing just one of the many ideas found here will save any company thousands of dollars.

Senior executives always complain about the rising cost of healthcare, but no one does anything about it. "Success" is defined as working with your benefits administrator so that the premium increase is "only 9%" this year and being happy that at least it's not a double digit increase.

John Torinus is one executive who has not abdicated his responsibility in keeping healthcare costs down. Not accepting the standard premium increases at face value, John developed a program to provide transparency to health care costs and employee incentive programs that helped employees make consumer driven healthcare decisions. The result has been premium increases averaging <3% over the last 8 years, better quality of care and an engaged employee base.

The Company That Solved Healthcare provides practical and real world suggestions about what self insured employers can do to manage their healthcare costs. For example, Torinus details what happens when employees know that a colonoscopy can cost $400 or $4000, depending on where they go for service. While you might not be able to afford to do everything that John has done (starting a primary care clinic on-site), this book contains many ideas about what companies can do to start actively managing their health care spending.
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