Healthcare costs have skyrocketed in the past 50 years. Compared to any other product or service, healthcare costs have grown eight times the rate of inflation.
According to a National Business Group report, the annual healthcare benefits costs are expected to increase at an approximate rate of $15,000 per employee. Another Business Group on Health employer survey study shows that healthcare costs are bound to grow at 5.3% in 2021. Another Milliman Medical Index study showed that healthcare costs increased by 4.1% from 2019 to 2020.
US employers have two major corporate objectives – 82% of the employers said reducing healthcare costs is important. The other major objective was reducing absenteeism and improving employee productivity.
So, how are employers going to manage their company budget to meet the rising healthcare costs, without compromising on employee wellness?
Here are the top 10 employee wellness strategies to help employers manage and overcome the issues of rising healthcare costs.
1. Rewards and Incentives
Rewards and incentives are proven employee engagement strategies. Implementing a suitable rewards program can motivate employees to participate in the corporate wellness programs and boost their holistic health, thus considerably reducing healthcare costs. Well-planned comprehensive corporate wellness programs with rewards initiatives can also help in tackling the daily smaller medical expenses.
2. Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
Typically, health savings accounts (HSAs) are financial plans that are offered only with a high-deductible health insurance plan (HDHP). These products help employees save their money on expensive healthcare costs and also reduce their taxable income. These plans have high annual deductibles and low monthly premiums. Also, the balances from these plans can be rolled over year after year, saving money. These financial security benefits are great for younger people. If offered as a part of the employee benefits plans, even the companies do not have to worry about losing their money..
3. Telemedicine and Digital Health Solutions
Reports prove artificial intelligence plays a major role in reducing healthcare costs and improving employee wellbeing. The COVID-19 pandemic has made telemedicine and digital health solutions the new normal of receiving medical care. Through telemedicine, employees can have a quick medical consultation with their physicians without booking appointments or waiting at the hospitals. Studies show that 70% of medical professionals in the US can virtually diagnose and treat health conditions. Also, most telemedicine providers are available 24 x 7, making it feasible for those who may need late-night visits. Making telemedicine a part of the employee wellness programs with robust digital wellness platforms can boost their utilization. This also increases the chances of employee engagement and delivers a positive ROI.
4. Corporate Wellness Programs
Corporate wellness programs aim to help employees cultivate healthy lifestyle behaviors. They are a great way of allowing employees to understand their health status, set actionable wellness goals, and help them achieve them by providing the needed tools and resources. Studies have shown that just changing lifestyle habits can save up to $730 billion in healthcare costs. For example, if employers want their employees to quit smoking, they can add a smoking cessation program to their corporate wellbeing programs. These employee wellness programs and wellness challenges are designed to allow the employees to make voluntary efforts to adopt healthier habits, reflecting better wellbeing, productivity, and lower healthcare costs.
5. Prioritizing Preventive Care
Prioritizing preventive care is the best way to reduce healthcare costs. According to CDC, chronic health disorders contribute to almost 75% of the US healthcare costs. They are expensive and also have higher recovery time, adding to the lost productivity due to absenteeism. Ironically, most chronic health conditions can be managed with the right preventive care. Employers can adopt employee wellness programs that include extensive preventive care initiatives, including health risk assessments and biometric screenings.
6. Get The Right Health Plans Broker
Ideally, health plans are bought from a benefits broker or consultant. The benefits plans industry has changed considerably in the past few years, and the pandemic has enforced adopting new technologies in the market. Keeping up with the advancements is mandatory for the brokers to stay in line with the trends. While some offer profitable corporate plans, some may not. This is where employers must do their research to choose the best-suited broker who introduces new strategies to reduce costs, offers healthcare guidance, and provides digital platforms to improve employee engagement. A health benefits manager who explores and prioritizes value-based healthcare is the one who will save corporate money from being spent on healthcare costs.
7. Having a Healthcare Guidance Platform
A healthcare guidance platform is one where employees can seek supervision to make better healthcare-related decisions. There are many such digital platforms in the market. Employers must shop around to find an appropriate healthcare guidance platform that offers customized services to the employees, and can be accessed on a mobile app too. Along with educational resources, they should also offer campaigns to boost employee engagement to ensure reduced healthcare costs.
The healthcare industry is probably the most complicated one, and there is no one standard solution to manage the rising costs. While boosting employee wellness and workplace culture is one of the key solutions to lower the costs, it also calls for better comprehensive solutions to tackle the issue from various fronts. Right from redefining workplace benefits packages, to motivating the workforce to adopt healthier habits, every step taken towards employee wellness is a step taken to combat the rising healthcare costs.