How to Incentivize your Medical Plan + Control Costs so that you can sleep at night

With all this talk about high deductible health plans and increased consumerism in healthcare, we are often left wondering if it all really works. Can we really do something about the rising care costs? Can we really expect people to shop for healthcare like they shop for cars and other consumer goods?

 

There are a lot of differing opinions on what we can really expect from people. Some are of the mindset that we should just reduce people’s coverage and let them fend for themselves. Others think that we need to provide people with the tools and resources to become successful. Most of these strategies fall under the category of “incentivization”, with varying degrees of being “hands on” from your firm’s perspective.  I’m of the mindset that we should definitely be providing people with some guidance. But more on that later.

 

Let’s take a look at a few ways that you can incentivize your benefits package:

  1. The Hands Off Approach – If you’re hoping to dip your toes into the world of incentivization, but don’t want to add anything to your workload, you should really consider a benefits redesign. Look at implementing an HRA (here’s a guide for that), and consider a high deductible plan. This isn’t the most impactful route, but it’s a start.
  2. The Half-Way-There Approach – If you want to up your game and start to incentivize your benefits in a more active way, think about looking at consumer literacy and training programs. There are a few out there (Trig being one of them) that operate as completely hands off, if you so choose. Where you start to see real change is when you tie HRA or HSA credits to completing some of the training. It’s easy and cost effective from the firm’s perspective and gets employees to learn how to be a consumer (often for the first time).
  3. The Fully Hands On Approach – If you’re set on making impactful change to your benefits plan, simply incentivizing a few training courses isn’t going to be enough. While you should still do it, you will also have to engage with a literacy and training program yourselves. As leadership of your company, you should understand a bit about healthcare literacy so that you can answer questions when your employees walk in the door. They need someone that can show them how to find answers and understand their role in the medical care process. All initiatives need a champion, and if you’re serious about seeing change, you are the best champion that your employees can get.

 

With this in mind, only you can decide how deep your firm wants to go to maximize your benefits. After all, your benefits are the most expensive item behind your payroll, so having some control over the spend is important. The good news is that once people begin to advocate for themselves and learn how to get better care, they will instinctively continue to grow. They just need a little help getting there, and that’s why incentivization is key.