Suzanne Lucas

3 Ways to Monitor Your Health Care Costs

Most likely, you started your business because you had a great idea and a desire to succeed. However, you didn’t realize how much of your time would be spent dealing with health care costs. With an uncertain future of health care, what can you do to keep your costs under control and have a great team? Here are three ideas:

1. Listen to Your Health Care Broker

If anyone understands health care costs and tricks to make things cheaper, it’s your health care broker. Ask them about discounts and programs that can reduce costs. Make sure your plans cover local doctors and hospitals. Even if out-of-network costs don’t hit you directly, they do affect your employees, and unhappy employees are more likely to leave. Don’t be afraid to re-evaluate every year. If your team changes, your health care needs change, too. Keep that in mind when you’re shopping for next year’s plan.


2. Focus on the Short Term

This may seem like silly advice since health care is a long-term proposition. However, a study from the Rand Corporation found that you could lower your immediate health care costs through disease management programs. Helping employees manage their diabetes, heart disease or other chronic health problem lowered hospital admissions by as much as 30 percent. That’s a huge cost saving to your insurance. Long-term plans, such as wellness programs, do save money over time.

3. Encourage Your Employees to Take Care of Themselves and Their Families

If someone has the flu, tell them to stay home. If a parent needs a day off to take their child in for a checkup, give them the time that they need. You want people to recover quickly from illnesses, and you want every child vaccinated. The two hours it takes for your office manager to take her baby in for an appointment and shots cost far less than the expense of hospitalization if her child catches pertussis. Someone who stays home with the flu keeps their germs to themselves, meaning that fewer people in your office will get it, saving you working hours and increased medical costs.

You can’t control every aspect of medical coverage but you can do your best to keep your health care costs down by being on top of it and focusing on the things that make a difference.

Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she interviewed and hired employees, managed the numbers and double-checked with the lawyers. Her writings have appeared in Inc. Magazine, CBS MoneyWatch, US News, Readers Digest and other publications. She focuses on helping businesses nurture great employees and helping employees enjoy great careers.