Health care is consistently one of America’s key issues, and, in 2019, education and prevention continue to be even more critical to controlling costs, especially for employers.
In fact, employers are the largest single provider and purchaser of health insurance in the United States, covering more than 150 million workers and their dependents and purchasing 34 percent of all health care dispensed in the country. And, although employers have enjoyed some success in controlling rising health-care costs, with premiums increasing 3 percent to 5 percent annually, rather modest by historic standards, there are other ways to help keep costs down.
Experts suggest that keeping employees informed and educated about healthcare costs is key. Knowing the cost of care and where to receive it could save your employees a great deal of money and may even result in a financial reward once the service has been completed.
Wellness programs also can help motivate your employees to improve their health by offering rewards when they achieve predefined goals. Some aspects of a wellness program may include classes about health risks and improving behavior, health coaching, smoking cessation courses, discount gym memberships and online health assessments. These may save you and your employees money by helping your employees achieve better health — and fewer doctor visits.
If and when they do need to visit a doctor, employees need to explore their options for receiving care. Virtual visits, or “seeing” the doctor through a video call or messaging system, are not only a more convenient option when it comes to a non- emergent need to see a doctor, but they also are often more cost effective.
Co-pays for a virtual visit are on average around $45, while the price to head to the nearest emergency room or urgent care facility can be $100 or more. This service can help employees avoid numerous sick days, get back to work quickly and prevent an illness from getting worse, while getting the care they need from the comfort of home.
And don’t forget the adage: “Prevention is the best medicine.” Pro-active preventive care is integral to staying healthy, and ultimately helping to reduce unnecessary visits to the doctor. Preventive care includes immunizations, physical exams, lab tests and certain prescriptions. Staying on top of these things can help maintain good health and reduce health-care costs for everyone!
In this edition of the Business Magazine, we’ll explore some of resources that can contain costs and enhance care, including the advanced technology available through hospital systems, such as UPMC Hamot in Erie. We’ll also examine the business of blood donation in the workplace and how it can benefit the community as a whole. Plus, we’ll discuss the important topic of association health plans (AHPs) and how they would benefit employers in Pennsylvania by alleviating the health-care cost burdens they currently endure.
Be sure to check out some of our insightful articles on the value of voluntary benefits, as well as some simple steps you can take to reduce stress in your workforce. Now is the time to evaluate how you and your team can improve overall health while improving the bottom line.