Let’s start with few questions that could make or break your company in 2018.
1. What was your company’s health insurance premium increase for 2017? 10 to 15%? That’s about the norm. Year after year.
2. How much of that increase was passed on to employees? 8 to 10%? Usually done through creative measures, of course.
3. Is healthcare your second largest company expense or third? Other than salaries and occasionally real estate, it’s always in the top three expenses.
When will your company reach its tipping point on healthcare spending and say enough is enough? And who will be the brave, yet common-sensical executive to stand up and declare the tipping point has been breached? Is it you? If not, who?
Why is it, then, with healthcare, we often shrug our shoulders and sigh, “another year, another 15% increase,” (with reduced services each year, might I add)? Every company has executives in place to manage top expenses to ensure business success. Why not make 2018 the year that you no longer shrug your shoulders at the annual increase and do something about it?
Make 2018 the year your company makes reducing wasteful healthcare spending its top priority.
Companies that prioritize reducing healthcare spending are focusing on what’s known as consumer-driven healthcare — sometimes just called consumerism. Consumer-driven healthcare forces the employee to engage in making healthcare decisions and, as a result, saves significant money. Companies that prioritize consumer-driven healthcare are also creating a healthy corporate culture, one that encourages engaged healthcare consumers and healthy lifestyles; everything in these workplaces is designed to support these initiatives.
Many Americans are familiar with high-deductible insurance plans. While on the surface, these new plans appear as if companies are simply shifting costs to employees, the truth is that there is a significant opportunity for the employee and employer to save thousands annually over prior years if the employee actually engages in the process as they would buying a car or house. If the employee does not engage in the process, healthcare costs will continue to skyrocket for the employee and employer.
Consumer-driven healthcare requires companies to support employees in identifying centers of excellence — either doctors or hospitals. These centers not only provide great quality care but are contracted to provide services at much lower rates. Organizations provide a list of these centers to employees, and savings would benefit both the employee and the employer.
Another example is medical tourism. No, not flying to Costa Rica for a procedure, but driving an extra hour or two to save anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 on a simple procedure. Santa Barbara County in California, for example, is contracted to provide all of its knee and hip surgeries at hospitals three hours south in San Diego, or employees can take a plane trip north to Seattle. When employees choose this option, they get a five-day, expenses-paid trip at a nice resort to recover as well. This example alone illustrates the disparity in costs between providers.
Other employers and communities are implementing DNA testing programs as well as new offerings that encourage telehealth and remote monitoring. There are steep discounts for employees who choose those offerings. Geisinger in Pennsylvania and the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada were both overwhelmed with consumer interest when they launched their programs.
In addition to these examples, a number of specialized programs have emerged nationwide that are being offered to companies to reduce spending on their heaviest users. The list of medical service providers who come in and partner with a company as an additional layer is growing by the month, saving corporations thousands by simply enhancing the services available to their chronically ill patients and those with diabetes and other expensive diseases.
These specialized programs have put an end to a number of companies’ annual increase in healthcare spending. While many of the programs are still a well-kept secret, there are enough of them with proven track records that almost every company can identify one or two that will be an appropriate fit for savings, and the services are all provided.
Some of the most well-known companies helping corporations bend the hyperinflating healthcare cost curve include Canary Health, HealthEquity, Hixme, Quantum Health, Livongo, Omada Health, PeerWell, Transcend and many more. Before running out to research them each directly, conduct an assessment to best determine which will best fit your company’s needs, culture and community.
With this in mind, I’ll ask another question. Is healthcare bankrupting your business? If not now, when? And if not you, then who will be the leader who steps up to declare the tipping point and begins the journey for your company? The time is now, and the resources are here.
So as you carry out your New Year’s resolutions, will you be the leader who makes healthcare spending your company’s top priority in 2018? Your people depend on it.