Surging healthcare costs affect us all. From soaring employer outlay to offer health benefits to growing costs on daily needs like prescriptions, healthcare expenditures weigh heavily on everyone.
Fortunately, there are methods to combat some healthcare spending. Let’s explore ways to help your employees with rising healthcare costs.
Help Employees Understand Their Benefits
Although health insurance is a popular benefit, many employees don’t understand what their healthcare benefits entail. It’s vital to help employees be aware of and understand what each of your plan options means.
Employers sometimes think their employees know more about their health insurance than they actually do. Many employees don’t know that most health plans come with several preventative healthcare services, like blood pressure and depression screenings, certain shots, and more. As long as an in-network doctor delivers the care, the services are free.
When employees don’t know about important parts of their health plan, they may inadvertently incur extra expenses - like unneeded ER visits, high-cost prescriptions, or not getting annual checkups to catch issues before they get worse.
There are several ways to share information with employees. Entertaining and informative monthly newsletters, weekly emails, or fliers can help spread the word. Don’t be afraid to add a little spice; no one likes bland announcements about anything. Chances are that if you entertain them, they’ll pay more attention to the important stuff.
We all like rewards. Wellness programs are typically designed to help employees improve their health while being rewarded when they meet defined goals.
Wellness programs are multifaceted. Programs may include options like health education, health coaching, smoking cessation programs, gym memberships, and other ways to assist employees to live their healthiest life. The important part is to offer programs your employees will use, which will differ for every employer.
Most people value a strong work/life balance. Why not include your employees and their families in your wellness plans? Many cities have 5k runs during the year, which are perfect events for the whole family. Consider forming a team, holding training sessions before the race and finish the event with a healthy company potluck. There’s nothing better than being with those you love, so why not get some exercise, and improve your overall wellness while doing it?
The best part? Incorporating wellness programs will help your employees save money. As they improve their health, they’ll likely need fewer doctor visits, may be able to take less medication and will probably feel better overall.
Encourage Employees to Use Lower Cost Prescription Drugs
Prescription drug costs make up a large part of the overall healthcare costs for employers. Specialty medications, known as “biologics” make up about half of the prescription drug costs, though they are often only prescribed to about 1.5 - 2 percent of plan enrollees.
Employers are encouraging employees who need these expensive medications to seek out more cost-friendly options.
Specialty drugs cost so much, in part, because many are made from living cells and must be injected or infused intravenously, which are expensive ways to take medication. It’s often possible to receive infusions at doctor’s offices and injections at home, but employees may not be aware of these options. Talking to your employees and educating them on the possible ways to decrease their prescription costs can ultimately help save you both money.
Specialty drugs aside, it's essential to encourage employees to ask their doctors if generic options are available for the medicines they take. According to the 2018 Generic Drug Access and Savings in the U.S. report, generic medications generated a total of $265 billion in savings in 2017.
There are ways to cut costs on prescriptions; it often just takes some education and encouragement.
Consumer-Driven Health Plans
More and more employers are offering Consumer-Driven Health Plans (CDHPs) to help keep premiums down. CDHPs require employees to take more responsibility for their healthcare choices.
In many CDHPs, employers fund a spending account, typically either a Health Savings Account (HSA), or Health Reimbursement Account (HRA), and then offer a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) to cover employees when they need major health care.
Provide Telehealth Options
According to the 2019 Employee Health Benefits Survey, 69 percent of firms with 50 or more employees cover telehealth in some form, like live video provider appointments on your computer or smartphone, nurse coaching over the phone through the insurance provider, and remote patient monitoring. However, many employees aren’t using the benefit.
For many, it’s a fairly new concept they may not understand. Creating literature to explain exactly how to use the telehealth options will likely encourage increased utilization. Most of us don’t like to use personal leave to go to the doctor, especially when it’s something that could be treated with a telehealth visit.
When you factor in that telehealth visits cost significantly less than office visits, averaging from $38 for telehealth visits to $114 for face to face visits, it seems that encouraging employee use would be good for everyone.
Include Flexible Benefit Options
Many employers are adding additional benefits to help compensate for the ever-increasing healthcare costs. Employee discount programs like Access Perks, Zestful, and Espresa (to name a few) let employers offer additional perks - like discounts on automotive services, travel, groceries, dining, and more, and help employees stretch their paychecks further.
Simple additions to benefit packages may be just what you need to keep morale high. You know that happy employees mean a smoother experience for everyone.
The fact is, healthcare costs are high for everyone, from employers to employees. The great news is that there are several ways to help your employees combat the ever-increasing costs. With some extra education and creativity, you can help them get the most from their healthcare benefits.
Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.