The priority of the majority of employers and their healthcare benefit administrators is preventing rising costs in healthcare. While medical, dental, and vision policies are included in benefits packages for every employee, the escalating costs within the industry might sway you to check out alternative programs and their quality benefits to offset a heavy financial hit.
One option is a health plan with a high deductible. Employers are more commonly offering high-deductible health plans for their employees in an attempt to alleviate increases in premium costs, as well as offering a health savings plan that counterbalances an increase in out-of-pocket expenses. For the majority of employees, this works itself out as a very positive compromise.
However, most employees aren't sold on having to dish out out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare. While they're used to this, they might not view HDHP to be as beneficial as it really is. Therefore, it is your job as the employer to offer specific benefits that supplement and help them out in various ways to sell them on using whatever health plan the company chooses.
Four issues worth weighing as you search to soften the blow of these high-deductible plans are as follows:
1. Providing support for employee decision-making
Shifting costs in healthcare is a direct result of the industry making itself consumer-driven. With high-deductible health plans, employees are responsible for paying out of pocket until their deductibles are reached, but only until now have they had the proper tools to be able to shop around for these healthcare options. In order to assist them in the decision-making process, it's best to provide tools sure to keep employees focused on prices and information regarding diagnostic treatments. There are also advocacy programs that will help them better understand the complicated world of healthcare when the time arises that they need support in making their choice.
2. Offering programs to lower out-of-pocket costs
The most obvious issue with high-deductible healthcare plans is always having to pay out of pocket. Offering employees options on how to lower costs will provide them with the help they need but also give them peace of mind for the decision process. Of course, the best way to reduce high out-of-pocket expenses is to lead a healthy lifestyle and being on top of any health issues at the earliest sign. For example, providing a vaccination program in order to prevent a flu outbreak in the office or programs in wellness and disease management to lower the costs of having to deal with more chronic health concerns. Another great option in keeping employees out of the doctor's office is telemedicine, which offers diagnosis and treatment conveniently over the phone. Solutions offering consultations free of copay are the ones employees will earnestly use and are at no additional cost.
3. Engaging employees in their new benefits
When employees become inundated with new information regarding their healthcare plans and how to use their benefits, they can find themselves overwhelmed and confused. As such, this may cause them to fall into their old habits of heathcare and never acclimate themselves to a new way of doing things. In order to prevent employee fear, encourage prospective vendors to focus on informing your employees on how to utilize their healthcare services and how it will lower their expenses. Engagement always drives benefits utilization, helping employees save time and money and proving your investment to be a positive one.
4. Incorporating off-cycle to increase engagement
As these programs begin to become implemented, make sure not do it all in one go. Overwhelming employees with a bunch of new programs will only add to their confusion and thus make what should be a positive new thing appear to them as a negative. Allowing the breathing room between benefits implementation is essential. Look at the benefits package as an ongoing conversation about employee well-being instead of a hitting them with new paperwork, deadlines, and information all at once.
High-deductible healthcare plans are a smart and reliable option for most of your employees, but others might need a bit more coaxing with time and money-saving programs. Offering opportunities to educate them more about how it will reduce costs for them, and patiently allowing them the breathing room will ease their transition. Employees will receive well-deserved benefits and feel more comfortable with the additional guidance you offer. Amongst one of the first things you should research in process is telemedicine, which offers great savings in both time and money.