(5-7 minute read)
As an employer, you may have been hearing quite a lot about what you can do to manage rising costs of healthcare (offer high-deductible health plans with an HSA component, phase out $0 coinsurance and low co-pay plans, etc.). With that said, are you doing a good job of educating your employees on what THEY can do to play a role in managing benefits costs? What behaviors can employees change and tools can they utilize in order to help themselves? Here are some tips:
Utilize Telemedicine and Informed Health Lines:
Busy workdays, activity-filled evenings – how are you going to find time to take care of that nagging cold? Many health plans offer virtual doctor visits over the phone, web, and video. Many even send prescriptions right to your pharmacy. Employees love the convenience, and both you and your employee benefit from the lower cost “visit”. Similarly, informed health/nurse lines offer free advice on a variety of health issues on a 24/7 basis.
Comparison Shop for Medical Procedures & Prescriptions:
When employees are covered by certain consumer-driven plans, they are not paying a straight fee for service. They can control how much they pay for procedures and prescriptions by shopping around for the best price. Many insurance companies provide search engines on their website where employees can compare prices of procedures based on the medical provider; some insurance plans even offer incentives and rewards if the employees save money by going to a lower-cost provided. Employees can save on prescriptions by using sites like https://www.goodrx.com to compare drug prices in their area. In addition, the site counsels employees on mail order options and patient assistance programs.
Use Generic Drugs vs. Name Brand:
What is the difference between generic and name-brand drugs? Not much. The active ingredients are the same. A generic medicine is the same as a brand-name medicine in dosage, safety, effectiveness, strength, stability, and quality, as well as in the way it is taken and should be used.1 So, what is the main difference? It really comes down to cost. Generic drug makers did not need to spend money on research and develop in order to get the initial FDA approval, so they can pass those savings on to consumers. If employees, use generic drugs, they can save a significant amount of money.
Participate in Wellness Programs:
Encourage employees to participate in both corporate-sponsored and insurance-provided wellness programs. These could be as simple as walking contests and yoga offerings to full-blown wellness counseling and smoking cessation programs. Participation in these programs not only help prevent illness but also money spent down the road.
Use Programs to Support Chronic Conditions:
Chronic illnesses are costly to everyone, but many insurance providers offer useful services to help. Employees can utilize programs where disease management consultants contact them periodically to provide advice and assistance. Some insurance companies also provide equipment and services for free and/or at reduced prices in order to keep employees’ health on track.
The employer is not alone in mitigating the cost of care. Getting your employees involved will help them save money, lead to healthy employees, and may even give you the added benefit of a more productive workforce. Everybody wins!
April 25, 2019
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