In 1996, HIPAA shook up the nation's health care system. In 2010, the ACA shook it up some more. And whatever legislation comes out of the current administration will surely do the same.
While such regulations do add more complexity for employers and their benefit programs, many of these changes actually end up being pretty advantageous.
After all, they come with the potential to reduce health care spending and simultaneously improve employee wellness. That's two major boons to the bottom line. Not only can employers save money through lower health care claim costs, they can see major upticks in productivity and talent retention due to a healthier workforce.
That being said, employers that don't provide sufficiently optimized health care benefit packages run the risk of falling short of this great potential.
Here are some tips to help you take maximum advantage of the opportunities presented by the current health care landscape:
1. Get the C-suite involved.
There was a time when the responsibility of negotiating benefit options with insurers fell squarely in HR's court. These days, however, handling benefits is much more than just "an HR thing," so it shouldn't come as a surprise that CEOs and CFOs are getting more involved when it comes to reinventing their firms' health insurance benefits packages and making sure the coverage options they offer are in line with what their workers need and want.
In fact, the very presence of a member of the C-suite in a negotiation with insurers is often enough to escalate the important issue of making sure the benefit options on the table provide everything the company needs in a way that's as efficient and cost-effective as possible.
2. Emphasize transparency.
For decades, consumers (i.e., your employees) have been forced to blindly procure health care with limited visibility into the quality or cost of what they were buying. To add insult to injury, they were usually told what to pay after their health care service was already delivered – even if the service was poor quality!
Now, as health care becomes increasingly consumer-driven, there are a number of transparency solutions available to employers that can help improve visibility into cost and quality so their employees can make better decisions about where to seek care.
Online health care transparency tools arm your employees with the information they need to shop for health care in the same way they shop for everything else. By providing cost and quality information on medical procedures, prescription drugs and other related services, health care transparency can empower your employees to finally take charge of their health care experience, enabling them to make informed decisions about their care.
Employers can also benefit from employees making financially and clinically sound health care decisions by achieving significant savings on total medical spend.
3. Focus on outcomes and analysis.
At Benefitfocus, we believe data insight is a primary driver for better decisions in health care benefits. When all is said and done, you can't improve what you can't track.
With this in mind, employers need to recognize that it isn't enough to merely aspire to provide health care coverage that's high-quality, streamlined and cost-effective - although, of course, setting that goal is a good start. From there, companies need to:
- Roll out benefit management tools that leverage data to help guide smart decisions - on both the employee side and the administrator side
- Monitor trends across the workforce related to everything from employee health plan enrollment behavior to population health cost drivers
- Continually evaluate your benefit offerings and programs for maximum cost-effectiveness and employee satisfaction
Employee benefit programs have taken on more strategic importance than ever before. Is your company's program optimal for your business and your workforce? If not, you're likely wasting money, and you risk losing top talent to competitors who've been quicker to evolve.
Learn more about how you can develop your benefits program to capitalize on today's health care landscape and meet the demands of today's worker. Click here to download your free copy of The Roadmap to Insight-Driven Benefits Management.