Reduce your company’s health insurance costs with an annual health-plan review. By reviewing how your plan is used, you can help employees maximize their benefits while reducing costs for both you and them. Most health insurance plans have benefits that are either unused or underused. An annual review can help you determine which benefits you should educate your employees about — and which you can drop altogether.
Different populations are best served by different health plans, and a health insurance review will help you identify a plan that aligns with your staff’s needs. By reviewing your plan, engaging your staff and implementing a range of cost-cutting measures based on prior usage, you can contain rising health insurance expenses.
Review Time-of-Service Payments
Look closely at the plan’s co-pays and deductibles. If your staff doesn’t use coverage that often, you may not need a plan with low time-of-service costs. You might be able to reduce the fixed monthly premium by moving to a plan that has higher co-pays when employees visit the doctor. Remember, when your monthly premiums go down, so do your employees’ premiums. They might pay a little more at the doctor’s office, but both you and your employees won’t pay as much in monthly premiums. The same rule applies to deductibles. However, significantly higher deductibles may discourage plan use for lower-income employees and may prevent an employee from seeking needed care.
Put Tax-Free Dollars to Work
The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends using health savings accounts (HSA) and flexible spending accounts (FSA) to manage costs. If your employees value extra benefits, such as chiropractic care and acupuncture, they can use an HSA or FSA to help cover alternative-medicine expenses. When your staff uses pretax dollars instead of the insurance plan to pay for some health care options, they still see savings on some of the benefits that you may not fully cover.
Insure the Right People
Forbes suggests that you audit the dependents listed on your health insurance program. Analyze the parameters that define which dependents you want to cover (including those required by law), and then review the dependents listed on your health insurance plan. You could be unnecessarily paying insurance premiums for unapproved dependents such as ex-spouses, parents and adult children over 26 years of age.
Educate Your Staff on Different Options for Urgent Care
Encourage your staff to use a 24-hour nurse helpline to help them determine if they have a true emergency or if their condition can be treated at a less-expensive urgent-care clinic. Emergency-room visits are the most expensive way to see a doctor. People often don’t understand how to appropriately use primary-care physicians, urgent-care clinics and the emergency room. If a family doctor has no same-day openings, a patient sick with the flu might immediately go to the ER, skipping the intermediate cost-saving step of visiting urgent care. This kind of plan misuse will drive up your premiums, in addition to being costly for the employee. By instituting an educational program for your staff and promoting a nurse helpline, you can reduce plan misuse and keep costs in check.
Encourage Preventive Care
Preventive care substantially reduces health insurance costs. Distribute brochures about the benefits of an annual flu shot, annual physical and recommended screenings based on age and risk factors. This kind of basic preventive care helps reduce doctor visits for illness and, therefore, helps keep your premiums low. Consider hosting a flu-shot clinic at your workplace or allowing employees to take a few hours off for screenings such as mammograms and physicals. When employees have easy access to services or time to utilize their benefits, they are more likely to take the steps necessary to stay healthy.
Reducing your company’s health insurance expenses doesn’t mean that you have to reduce benefits. A thorough annual review of past plan use and plan options could reveal a better fit for your staff with significant savings to your company’s monthly expenses.
Dylan Murray has an MBA from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree in communication from Boston University. He is a licensed insurance agent in California, but he works as a professional researcher and writer reporting on business trends in estate law, insurance and private security. Dylan has worked as a script analyst with the Sundance Institute and the Scriptwriters Network in Los Angeles. He lives in San Diego, California, and Marseille, France.