I want you to think very deeply about the last time your company went through your annual health insurance renewal. The massive rate increases, the sleepless nights.
One of the biggest things that people complain about is not really knowing what to do to bring costs down for you company. It’s the second largest expense that your company will incur this year, right behind payroll. Maybe your broker has reassured you that “next year will be better”. But do you really, really know that next year will be better?
Some years we get lucky and our renewal goes down, but most years the house wins. I’ve outlined a few things that you can actually do to reduce your claims for next year, and not just let luck manage your health plan. But first let’s look at a few of the ways that people tend to manage their claims now, the “status quo” if you will.
What’s Currently Being Done
Get a “Better Broker”
After the affordable care act came into play companies started changing brokers just “because”. People thought that by shopping around for a new broker they could ensure that they’d be covered when new regulations came into play. Its not necessarily a logical step but the process of shopping around for makes people feel proactive. It doesn’t always work (of course it depends on the quality of your old and new broker) but it could be an opportunity to find a broker that will introduce new products that you can actually use.
This is a big one that we see all the time. You’ve had a bad year and your current medical carrier wants to increase your premium by 15% over last year. Not cool, right? They must be so corrupt… so you turn to another carrier. The problem is that this new carrier might “buy” your business this year only to increase the premium (because they have to) next year. It’s a quick fix but not one that is going to have a positive impact in the long run.
Perhaps the newest kid on the block, high deductible health plans or new plan designs that introduce “consumerism” into the mix is growing quite popular. While this is a pretty neat idea, it doesn’t always work (check out our article on that here). And it can leave certain people in pretty dire circumstances if not executed properly. Ultimately, it is another quick fix that probably leads to more money spent in the long run.
What You Should Be Doing (in addition to the above)
- Verifying the Right Doctor
Getting better care (i.e. the right care) means getting cheaper care. One of the biggest things that you can do to reduce your annual claims bill is to help people find the right doctors and verify that their diagnosis is correct. Your carrier’s website probably has a lot of this info, even things like cost and user ratings for doctors. If your carrier doesn’t have that, check out Vitals.com.
- Give People Tools When They Need It
Business 101 tells you to meet people where they are. Don’t give them a giant document from your carrier and expect that your employees are going to know how to get healthcare. Getting people to engage with things like telemedicine or second opinion services can all be done online, even over the [smart]phone. We know that people spend the majority of their brainpower on their phones and ipads. Lets engage with them there.
- Educate on Levels of Care
This is something that we call the “levels of care”. Teach your employees that there are different “levels” for different ailments and needs. One of the easiest ways reduce your overall claims is to teach people not to use the ER unless they have an ER need. This stuff is so easy that you could just hang a poster or two and start saving money. After all, it’s not their fault that they don’t know, we have to be the ones to teach them.