Strategic Decisions to Help Control Costs

These days controlling costs is more important than ever, but you also want to provide attractive benefits for your employees. Here are some tips to help you both manage costs and maximize the value of your benefits offering.

Evaluate the Plans and Cost-Sharing Options You Currently Offer Employees

If you have an HMO or a basic PPO plan, consider adding a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) as a choice to help employees who may need a lower monthly dues option. Also known as “consumer-driven health plans,” they encourage employees to be more informed and involved in their health care choices.

Consumer-driven health plans are frequently paired with health savings accounts (HSAs), flexible spending accounts (FSAs), or health reimbursement accounts (HRAs), which are options that may provide savings and tax advantages for your employees. Generally, HSAs are only available with HSA-eligible high-deductible health plans, whereas FSAs and HRAs can be paired with most health plans. To learn more about these types of plans, talk to your broker.

Dental and vision coverage are highly valued components of an employee benefits package that may help lower costs by improving overall employee health. Offering these benefits can also be a competitive advantage when recruiting or retaining talent.

Know Who You’re Covering

A problem some employers face is that they are providing coverage for employee's spouses who are also offered coverage through their work. To remedy this, some employers are only providing coverage for dependents who do not already get coverage at their job. Another consideration is adding a probation period of 90 days so that you are only insuring employees who are going to stick around long term.

Evaluate the Provider Network Options

Since most health care is consumed locally, a narrower or tailored doctor and hospital network may work just as well with your employee base and provide savings on premiums.

Promote Health and Wellness Programs

Encourage employees to take advantage of the preventive care benefits their plan offers to maintain good health, such as an annual physical. Promote healthy lifestyle choices and workplace wellness programs to support weight loss, smoking cessation, and regular exercise. Incentives can be powerful motivators to adopt healthy habits, and they don’t have to be expensive.

For employees living with chronic conditions, encourage them to participate in outcome-based disease management programs to ensure they manage their illness as best they can.

Educate Employees about How to Make Wiser Healthcare Choices

A few ways that your employees can save time and money include:

  • Reminding employees to stay in-network; choosing to seek care outside the plan’s preferred network results in higher out-of-pocket costs or potentially not being covered.

  • Choosing an urgent care center or a nurse helpline for minor health problems, instead of the ER which is for serious, life-threatening issues

  • Selecting non-hospital-based laboratories and imaging centers, or ambulatory surgery centers for outpatient surgeries

  • Opting for generics instead of brand-name prescription drugs

  • Using mail-order pharmacy benefits to reduce costs

  • Taking advantage of discounts offered by vendors via health plans, often available for a variety of services from eyeglasses to vitamins to alternative care like acupuncture.