Open enrollment is a stressful time of year for HR professionals. Rising healthcare costs, changing regulations, and uncertainty around the future of the ACA all make benefits increasingly complex. HR teams are tasked with simultaneously trying to cut costs and providing valuable benefits for employees. This is an almost impossible challenge. While the list of benefits concerns is long, cost containment, engagement, and specialty pharmacy are three of the top issues that HR professionals are stressing over this year.
Rising healthcare costs is a top concern for companies and employees alike. In an effort to make healthcare more affordable, benefits managers and HR professionals are implementing new cost containment solutions. Many strategies have emerged in the past few years, including transparency solutions, concierge medicine, health advocates, and telemedicine. Employers may be implementing one or multiple of these strategies to try to control costs. There are two key principles behind all of these solutions. First, employers are trying to avoid generating unnecessary claims. Second, employers want employees to “shop around” for medical care to get the best price.
Telemedicine supports both of these initiatives. Using telemedicine diverts healthcare claims from expensive physician offices, urgent care clinics, and emergency rooms to low-cost telemedicine sessions for minor illnesses and accidents. And educating employees about the costs of different sites of care empowers them to make lower cost decisions. Unfortunately, while these are all great solutions in theory, they don’t work unless they get high utilization and engagement. This continues to be a problem for many companies.
After spending countless hours designing the best benefits package for employees, there is nothing more frustrating for HR professionals than low engagement. After all, they won’t realize the benefits of the programs if no one is using them.
But engaging employees to change the way they use their medical benefits is not easy. Generic communications and a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. That’s why TelaCare develops a custom, co-branded communication campaign. This year-long campaign educates employees on the benefits of telemedicine, like increased convenience and lower cost, and then builds awareness throughout the year. Plus, we can even use real claims data to segment and target groups of employees with specialized communications.
This personalization drives higher engagement, resulting in better health outcomes and lower costs. And we know our communication strategy works, because we have the highest utilization rate in the telemedicine industry. This means real savings for our clients.
Rising drug costs have been the major driver for increased healthcare costs for employers for the past five years. The trend seems likely to continue. In fact, drug costs increased an average of 22% in 2015. Companies are implementing multiple strategies to decrease these costs, including step therapy, mandated mail order for certain medications, excluding medications from their plans, tiered pricing models, and separate deductibles for prescription drug plans.
TelaCare can Help
Employers are scrambling to reduce rising healthcare costs. No matter what changes the new Trump administration makes, this trend is unlikely to reverse. New solutions and strategies need to be used to actually drive change in health care. But these new solutions are only good if they’re being utilized. And that’s where so many promising companies and programs have failed.
Savings start with engaging employees in their benefits. Only this will help reduce unnecessary claims and increase consumerism in health care. And TelaCare has proved that we can deliver on these promises. Our solution and customized communication strategy work. And we have the highest utilization rates in telemedicine to prove it.