For most of the last couple of decades, the cost of health care has continued to climb and has continued in 2018. This past year, the average employer-sponsored family plan, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, approached $20,000, and there’s yet another five percent increase expected for 2019.
The promise of a new year and a fresh start bring hope, and for employers and HR professionals, the good news is that instead of becoming a victim to insurer’s annually increasing premium rates, they can take this time to identify cost savings in their current health plans. As they look to enact change in the new year, here are five things for employers and HR professionals to consider:
You’re actually running a health care business
For most employers, health care is the largest expense after payroll. The vast majority of non-elderly and low-income Americans are on employer-sponsored plans, which means employers play a significant part in shaping our health care system. Employers must take ownership of this responsibility and seriously consider the financial and societal impact of high-cost, low-quality health plans that have created a 20-year-long economic depression for the working and middle class. Fortunately, wise employers have realized that the best way to slash health care costs is to improve benefits.
Get to know your employee population better
Most fully insured plans don’t take into consideration unique employee needs. Because of this, employers could be paying for pointless benefits. Rather than pay more for subpar benefits, employers can pay less and give their employees better benefits with a higher coverage value. Younger employees may want family planning services while older employees may want assistance caring for an elderly parent. Through surveys and focus groups, employers can easily gain insight into their employees’ needs.
Choose a benefits advisor that has your best interest in mind
Did you know that most benefits brokers make more money the worse job they do? That is, their commissions grow as your health care costs skyrocket. Many benefits brokers receive large bonuses for keeping employers on certain plans even if they aren’t the right fit. And each year, with health premiums continuing to climb, health plan commissions likewise increase by 10 to 15 percent.
In addition to doing their own research, employers should seek out highly aligned advisors who will disclose their commissions, bonuses, and compensation, and who are proactive about meeting early and often so that employers have time to explore multiple insurance options. The best benefits advisors are able to drop health benefit costs by 10 percent or more not by cost-shifting to employees but by ensuring employees only receive care from the highest value healthcare provider organizations. This is done by knowing you, and your particular demographics of your employee base and your industry. A great advisor will have a timeline prepared for you, spelling out what they will bring to the table for you. You as the customer should fine tune this with your broker/advisor to make sure your expectations are met as the customer. This is important and if you are NOT receiving this kind of service now, then its time to re-think your current advisor. Why not consider Morgan & Franz Insurance.
Your wellness program isn’t worth it
Though they’re all the rage, so-called “wellness” programs produce little to no ROI and can be expensive add-ons, costing $100-$150 per employee per month, plus hundreds more if employers offer financial incentives for participation. Of course, these optional expenses are in addition to health insurance costs. By switching to a value-based care model, employers can not only save money, but they can also have healthier employees with fewer medical expenses. Compared to “wellness” programs, true well-being is impacted much more when proper primary care is in place— i.e., primary care that isn’t driven by maximizing volume for a health system.”
Employers can become agents of change, How by Addressing key major health issues such as diabetes and overall health in the workplace. How do you help to do this?
Implement or have health fairs, Health awareness programs. Employees may benefit from a health assessment where body mass index (BMI) calculated, cholesterol checked, and complete an assessment tool designed to identify if they are at risk for Type 2 Diabetes. Then help to implement education and motivate.
Company culture is a strong and influential tool that can move the needle within its workforce on a range of issues. Companies can go green and raise employee awareness about environmental sustainability, or implement policies that show strong support for working parents.
A company culture that focuses on health and wellness can have a significant impact on many chronic conditions—including diabetes. Here’s how to get started.
Effective communication with employees
No matter how much work an employer puts into developing the perfect plan, it will fail if employees are not made aware of its details. Employers must be sure to clearly communicate with employees how to best take advantage of the new plan, which will prevent them from making frantic calls to HR about not being covered or feeling forced to see providers they are not familiar with. Most employees don’t recognize that the only thing that changes is who processes the claim and cuts the check. It’s still the employer who is paying the bill and the same doctors who are providing care and guidance. This allays any concerns once people understand this.
With these insights in mind, employers can make well-informed decisions that set the stage for savings, and improved employee experience, for 2019 and beyond. Look for an effective communication strategy to your employees. In today’s complex world of employee benefits, and compliance you need a consultant that can give you a clear-cut communication and distribution strategy. This is imperative to you the employer and to your employees.