More than a decade after the U.S. Congress began debating the merits of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), health insurance continues to be a hot topic in the workplace. Employers are compelled by the ACA to offer their eligible workers qualifying health insurance. Meanwhile, workers are looking at health insurance benefits as a qualifier for determining who they will work for.
Your company probably takes a number of steps to keep healthcare spend under control. But are they the right steps? Take a look at the five ways to manage healthcare spend below and judge for yourself. If your company is not employing these strategies, you might be paying too much.
1. Look into the SHOP Program
The first thing any company with 50 or fewer employees should do is look into the government's Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP). This program is specifically intended to help small businesses provide qualifying health insurance without breaking the bank.
To be eligible for SHOP, employers must have between one and 50 full-time equivalent employees. Employees with fewer than 25 employees might be able to further enhance their cost reductions by taking advantage of the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit.
2. Consider High Deductible Plans
Employers do not necessarily have to settle for a PPO or POS plan offered by their local area's main provider. They can also consider high deductible plans offered by national and regional carriers. A high deductible health plan saves money on both employee and worker contributions by requiring workers to pay more out-of-pocket for their healthcare.
3. Encourage Primary Care
Health insurance premiums go up along with the volume and monetary value of claims. As such, employees without primary care physicians may be contributing to higher insurance premiums by using emergency rooms and urgent care centers when they really should be seeing a primary care physician.
You can help control your company's healthcare costs by encouraging workers to use primary care. In addition to telling them about it, encourage them to actually schedule a visit. Until a worker actually visits a GP for the first time, no formal relationship is established.
4. Encourage Preventative Care
Numerous studies, including one 2009 study published by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, have shown that preventative care helps to reduce the prevalence of many acute conditions. Reducing the risk of such conditions means workers are living healthier lives and seeking out healthcare services less frequently.
The point here is that encouraging preventative care costs less in the long run. This can help keep healthcare costs in your local area down, thus reducing the premiums your company and workers pay.
5. Offer Employee Wellness Programs
Finally, offering employee wellness programs goes a long way toward keeping costs contained. Some insurance companies even offer financial incentives for doing so. Employee wellness programs cover a full range of possibilities including smoking cessation programs, encouraging regular exercise, helping with nutrition, and so forth.
Employee wellness offers the same advantages as preventative care. Encouraging employees to pursue individual wellness leads to healthier lives and less need for medical care. It all translates into lower premiums.
According to the Kaiser family foundation, the average annual health insurance premium for single workers in 2018 was $6,715. Employers paid $1,427 while employees covered the remaining $5,288. Average premiums for family plans approached $20,000.
It is clear that health insurance costs are continuing to rise. Though there may not be much your company can do to stop the upward trend, you can manage your own costs by implementing the five strategies discussed in this post.