How to Help Your Employees Control Their Health Care Costs

Health care costs can sneak up on you if you don’t stay on top of them. But figuring out how to stay on top of those expenses can be intimidating. That said, your employees don’t have to feel powerless in the face of health care questions.

How can you give your staff confidence to know that they’re in control of their health care and the cost behind it? Education is key: Help employees see that they can choose their costs and don’t have to immediately accept the “default” option offered to them.

Here are some ideas you can pass along to your employees to help them feel more in control of their health care choices.

Seek a Transparent List of Costs and Tests

You never know what unexpected costs might show up within a recommended procedure, as NPR reports. Encourage your employees to get a list of every cost involved in a procedure or treatment before saying yes. They might be surprised at what unnecessary services are included. Some blood work panels might include a pregnancy test, for example, even when pregnancy isn’t a possibility. Or employees might be given multiple ultrasounds when only one is needed. If a hospital or doctor balks at providing a transparent list, suggest that your employee talk to your health care agent or carrier for help.

Consider Therapies Before Surgery

Some doctors are quick to recommend the most expensive surgery, even if it’s not needed right away. Back problems, for example, might benefit from a variety of medications and physical therapies. The New Yorker wrote about one patient who was told that he needed his spine fused for severe pain, but when he visited a specialist he learned that he really just needed injections. His problem was fixed in a few weeks, all without surgery. In cases like these, surgery should be a last resort, not a first choice. Encourage employees to ask about therapies or minor procedures that might be tried before surgery.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Encourage your employees to be proactive in their health choices, too. The healthier your staff is overall, the less they’ll need to spend on health care every year. Proactive health habits include going to a doctor for regular checkups, taking part in an exercise program and getting regular vaccinations and tests like eye exams.

But it’s not enough to encourage this behavior just with words — your office should live out a health-focused culture. This means making healthy drinks and snacks available at work, giving time off for doctor’s appointments, offering gym discounts and encouraging employees not to come into work if they’re sick. You can even set up a wellness program or offer health premium deductions for reaching certain health goals.

Seek Advice Through Telehealth or Nursing Lines

Sometimes employees just don’t want to waste time going to a doctor’s office and sitting in a long line when they think they’re dealing with something minor. They can keep costs and wait times down by calling nurse hotlines or speaking to doctors through telehealth services, advises Entrepreneur. Some options provide counseling services that can help with mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

Find a Trusted Doctor and Pharmacy to Coordinate With Specialists

Needing to see multiple specialists can quickly become confusing, as it can be tough to coordinate your medications and make sure that each doctor knows what the other is doing. Encourage your employees to find a trusted primary care doctor who can help coordinate all those specialists. And remind your staff that it’s important to get all their medication from the same pharmacy, so their pharmacist can make sure their prescriptions don’t have any worrisome side effects when taken together.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Seek a Second (or Third) Opinion

Make sure your staff knows that if something serious is wrong or if a major procedure is needed, you want them to get a second or third opinion. Proactively offering free time off for that additional advice is the best way to show them that you won’t be upset if they need a little extra time to make the right decision.

The most important thing you can do to help employees feel confident about their health care costs is simply to be available. Have an open-door policy to answer your staff’s questions, and find a health care agent who will be available to walk your staff through any specific issues they’re having. And don’t forget to model healthy living yourself. It’s hard to effectively encourage a healthy lifestyle if employees don’t see you trying to cultivate one yourself.

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