In the face of rising health care costs, it’s natural to be concerned about the expenses your company will incur. Collaborating with your insurer is one worthy initiative that can help you reduce health care expenditure. Many health insurers have a number of online tools available that provide employers (and their employees) with timely, comprehensive information about health care use and costs in the United States. In most cases, these tools are also available on mobile platforms enabling anytime, on-the-go access. You should make use of these available resources to best achieve your cost-saving goals.

In particular, the increased cost transparency derived from these tools equips you with the right health care knowledge to then pass on information to your employees and implement processes that save on costs. On the other side of the coin, providing online tools ensures that employees play a significant role in their own decision-making process; this is in line with consumer-oriented approaches that many employers are promoting.

Common Online Tools

Most insurers offer sections of their sites to plan members for the following much-needed tasks:

  • Finding a doctor. One of the most common tools offered on an insurer’s website is a list of medical practitioners contracted by your insurer. These practitioners have agreed to accept plan-approved discounted rates for their services, which helps to lower the cost of covered medical procedures. Some insurers provide a search database with doctors’ names and locations. This tool is handy for employees who want to switch their primary care physician or need directions to a clinic.
  • Plan advisor. Many insurers have tools to help employees better understand different plan types, what their medical costs may be, the most appropriate settings for care and where they may be able to save money. An example of Anthem’s tool for this is their Benefit Advisor.
  • Prescription drugs. It’s vital for employees with medical conditions to know which medications are covered by simply accessing the drug list featured on the insurer’s website. This tool helps your employees better understand their prescription drug plan and the available options. Some insurers allocate covered medications based on essential categories such as cost, availability and similar alternatives. Educating your employees on navigating this tool will help them save on health care costs and time. For example, they might choose to opt for generic medication online or via mail order.
  • Legal and administrative tools. Insurers typically offer a selection of needed explanations for various legal and administrative tasks, such as tax information, banking and financing regulations, insurance plan options, coverage for different groups of enrollees and an expenses tracker.

These tools can assist you in a number of ways: developing structured wellness and disease management programs, helping your employees make informed choices, ensuring accountability and tracking the cost of health care in your company prior to a periodic review.

Online tools help empower employees with the right knowledge to act proactively in managing their health care expenses. Steer your employees in the right direction by showing them how to use insurers’ websites to search for anything they might need: provider quality ratings, alternative treatments, and standard medical procedures and their costs. This allows for a helpful layer of transparency. Equipped with the right skills, your employees will become discerning, cost-conscious health care shoppers.

Emmie Sahlan has a graduate degree in English and has been writing professionally for the past five years. Her niche areas are insurance, credit cards, personal finance and education.