Combatting Rising Healthcare Costs
Navigating employee healthcare is never easy. In a country where employer costs have been steadily rising while employee coverage is shrinking, finding the right health benefits for your employees can seem impossible. Experts anticipate additional rises in costs in 2019, with the average employee healthcare cost increasing to $15,000 per person, a more than 5% increase. As costs rise, employers, especially those running small business, look for cost-cutting measures to allow them to stay within budget and provide adequate healthcare to their employees. Here are a few things that you can do in order to increase the effectiveness and cost efficiency of your employees’ healthcare.
- Shop Around
You know your employees and what is best for your organization. When you begin the search for a healthcare provider, do not fall into the trap of what is most easily accessible. Find the provider that is right for you and your employees. Healthcare coverage with readily available primary care providers is more likely to increase your employees’ involvement in their own healthcare and decrease costly visits to the emergency room and urgent care.
In addition, finding a healthcare provider that provides navigation assistance and transparent pricing can empower your employees to get the most bang for their buck; meaning in the long run, they’ll save you money too. When employees better understand their healthcare and where their money is going, they are more likely to make decisions that decrease costs. This can range from healthier living and seeing a primary care physician, to choosing a hospital that offers less expensive care than their competitors.
- Educate Your Employees
Educated employees are empowered employees. Offer your employees opportunities and resources to understand their benefits package, understand preventative care, and learn about ways they can contribute to their own health. Employees that are knowledgeable about their health and their benefits are more likely to take better care of themselves and make more informed (and less expensive) decisions. Studies show that employees that are adequately informed on healthcare and preventative measures are less likely to develop avoidable chronic illnesses, saving your organization money and providing your employees with a better quality of living.
- Improve Access to Care
Studies indicate that 28% of American men and 17% of American women do not have a primary care physician. Without regular visits to a primary care provider, employees are more likely to use the emergency room or urgent care. Often these visits are often unnecessary; care that is provided could have given by a primary care physician at much less cost for both the employee and the employer. Many individuals without primary care physicians cite an inability to find a suitable physician within their healthcare policy. Ensuring that whatever insurance provider you choose has an adequate number of available and easily accessible primary care physicians will help you to encourage your employees to take advantage of preventative healthcare, ultimately saving them (and you) from the costs of visits to the emergency room.
- Provide Employee Funded Programs
One way many employers are cutting costs to employee healthcare is through utilizing programs such as Health Savings Accounts (HSA) or Lifestyle Savings Accounts (LSA). These can offer a place for employees and employers to designate funds for things such as prescription medication, glasses, dental care, or (with the LSA) gym memberships. Having an HSA or LSA encourages employees to financially invest in their own health. Employers can offer a match, etc., that further encourages employees to take control and live a healthy lifestyle.
- Create Wellness Programs
Working in conjunction with an LSA or HSA, employee wellness programs can empower employees to take control of their health. Incentives can be used to encourage healthy habits, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a balanced diet, and exercising regularly. Wellness plans are one of the most effective ways to encourage employee participation and cut costs to healthcare. Employees are more likely to take advantage of incentives, living healthier lifestyles and avoiding habits that can be detrimental to their health. This makes employees less likely to develop a chronic preventable illness and decreases visits to the emergency room.
As healthcare costs continue to rise, employers may be forced to find alternative cost-cutting measures, but these five strategies are a good place to start. Providing opportunities for education, awareness and involvement will encourage your employees to take charge of their health and empower them to live healthier lifestyles. No matter the industry you’re in, these strategies will cut expenses for you and your employees and provide them with the foundation to better their standard of living.