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How to Reduce Costs without Sacrificing the Health Care Benefits You Provide


health-care-benefitsRising health care costs are a concern for all employers—no matter the size. There was a time when employee benefits would only be discussed once or twice per year, but now it's something that needs to be addressed throughout the year due to an ever-changing regulatory environment. 

Although the most recent health care reform does not include participation requirements, it does include verbiage about intended participation rates, noting that if the intended participation rate is not met by a certain date, the monetary amount your company pays per employee will increase since carriers can still charge you the "intended" premium amount.

If this shift is going to cause a headache for your company, you may be interested in discovering how other organizations are offsetting this potential cost, without sacrificing the employee benefits they offer.

1. Offering a corporate wellness program with employee incentives.

A recent survey by Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group found that nearly 90% of employers offer wellness incentives such as financial rewards or prizes to employees who work toward a healthier lifestyle. That's up from 57% of companies in 2009. The goal is to get your employees thinking about their health and make it beneficial for them to adopt healthier habits and be more proactive about getting healthy.

By implementing a well-rounded program, you can drastically decrease costs on both health care benefits and medical claims because, by rule of thumb, it costs people less to medically treat healthy people.

According to the American Journal of Health Promotion, when a steady wellness program is in place, it can slow health care cost growth by 15%—or about $332 per participant. This not only saves your company money, but also increases employee morale. After all, isn't a healthier employee a happier, more productive employee? Many corporate wellness programs today offer activities to help employees get active and healthy. Monetary incentives, gym memberships, worksite fitness centers, and healthier onsite cafeteria food options are all different ways that you can help your employees facilitate a healthier lifestyle.

2. Providing onsite health clinics.

Onsite clinics benefit both you and your employees for a number of reasons. With onsite health clinics, you can usually expect a decrease in medical claims. When a clinic or nurse is onsite and offered free of charge, more employees are inclined to take advantage of that resource for their routine health exams or unplanned doctor visits, resulting in a decrease in medical claims for same-day urgent care visits and routine doctor visits.

Additionally, having an onsite clinic offers you greater cost control.  As an example, consider placing an onsite clinic or nurse at an annual contract of $2,000. You then know the cost of that arrangement and can encourage your employees to visit a health professional onsite, rather than a facility that will result in a claim. And, those costs are unknown until they occur. An onsite clinic also allows for a greater platform for health education and the promotion of wellness activities.

3. Sharing the cost of employee benefits with your employees.

A number of different factors can affect what percentage an employee will pay toward their employee benefits, but just because you are cost-sharing, doesn't mean your employees will be burdened with a huge monthly payment for health insurance. You can defer some of the cost back to employees by having them complete certain tasks throughout the year, such as committing to be tobacco-free, getting an annual physical, etc.

The added benefit to requiring your employees to participate in biometric screenings and annual physicals is exposing them to the state of their health. Sometimes that realization will encourage proactive lifestyle changes to foster healthier employees.

Successful companies will always have to encounter changes, including health care costs; it is inevitable. Health care costs are on the rise but there are a number of different ways to decrease your out-of-pocket costs. When companies start using these strategies and programs, they often experience a dual outcome helping themselves and helping their employees. And, who doesn't want to work for a company that cares about their employees?


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