Tackling Healthcare Inflation: 3 Effective Employer Tactics

Tackling Healthcare Inflation: 3 Effective Employer Tactics

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We’ve got some news for you – both good and bad. The good news is that inflation is cooling down, and we can anticipate a decline in consumer prices in the coming year. However, while general inflation may be subsiding, its impact is shifting to health insurance costs.

If you’re a business owner or an HR professional, you’re likely grappling with rising healthcare costs. Many are concerned about providing adequate health insurance coverage while dealing with labor shortages. In 2024, healthcare inflation continues to pose significant challenges for employers of all sizes.

Healthcare costs have been rising at a faster pace than the overall cost of living, creating a burden for businesses of all sizes and across industries. According to the recent annual employer health benefits survey conducted by KFF, there has been a significant uptick in the average cost of employer-offered family health insurance. In fact, this increase of 7% marks the highest rate increase in a decade, bringing the average cost of employer-sponsored family health insurance to $23,968.

The impact of healthcare inflation is particularly felt in the current labor market. With a shortage of qualified workers in various industries, employers face increasing pressure to offer competitive benefits packages, including comprehensive health insurance coverage. However, the rising healthcare costs make it more challenging for businesses to meet these demands without sacrificing other vital resources.

For business owners and HR professionals, finding effective tactics to manage rising healthcare costs while attracting and retaining top talent is essential. The goal is to strike a balance between offering quality health insurance coverage and ensuring the long-term sustainability of the business.

Health Insurance

This blog will explore three effective tactics employers can use to tackle healthcare inflation. By designing health insurance plans that align with the specific needs of employees, considering alternative healthcare delivery approaches, and introducing employee education and wellness initiatives, businesses can effectively manage rising healthcare costs.

Employer Tactic No. 1: Designing Health Insurance Plans

Analyzing employee demographics is the first step in designing health insurance plans that meet their needs. By gathering data on the age, gender, and health status of employees, employers can gain insights into the specific healthcare requirements of their workforce. For example, if most employees are younger and in good health, a high-deductible health plan paired with a health savings account (HSA) might be a suitable option. On the other hand, if employees have diverse healthcare needs, offering a range of plan options with different coverage levels can ensure that employees can choose the best option for their requirements.

One popular option for designing health insurance plans is implementing high-deductible health plans (HDHPs).  Typically, these types of plans have lower monthly charges but higher deductibles. High Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) are frequently combined with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), which enable employees to contribute pre-tax money towards covering their out-of-pocket costs. This approach appeals to both employers and employees as it encourages cost-conscious healthcare decisions and allows employees to save for future healthcare needs. Employers can also contribute to employee HSAs, further incentivizing participation in these plans.

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You can also consider integrating telehealth services. Telehealth allows employees to access healthcare remotely through virtual consultations with healthcare providers. This provides convenient and timely access to care and can help reduce unnecessary visits to emergency rooms or urgent care centers. Implementing telehealth services can lead to cost savings for both employers and employees by lowering healthcare utilization and associated expenses.

In addition to these tactics, a recent study by Mercer found that almost half of the large employers surveyed (49%) are implementing specialized programs that target specific health conditions.

Employer Tactic No. 2: Exploring Alternative Healthcare Delivery Models

Employers increasingly turn to alternative healthcare delivery models to manage expenses while maintaining quality coverage for their employees. These innovative approaches to healthcare delivery offer potential cost savings and a range of benefits for both employers and employees.

on-site clinics

On-Site Clinics

On-site clinics are medical facilities located within the workplace or near the workplace. They are staffed with healthcare professionals and offer employees a range of primary care services. By providing convenient access to healthcare services, on-site clinics can help businesses reduce healthcare costs by minimizing the need for employees to seek care outside the workplace. Employees can receive timely and preventive care, improving health outcomes and reducing healthcare expenses in the long run.

Direct Primary Care (DPC)

In a DPC model, employees pay a fixed monthly fee directly to a primary care provider or clinic. This fee covers a comprehensive package of primary care services, including unlimited office visits, preventative care, and basic diagnostic tests. By cutting out the intermediaries, such as insurance companies, employers can often negotiate lower rates for DPC services. DPC providers can offer more personalized care, longer appointment times, and enhanced access to healthcare professionals. This model not only reduces costs by eliminating unnecessary administrative overhead but also provides employees with more focused and comprehensive primary care.

Concierge Medicine

Concierge medicine is another alternative healthcare delivery model focusing on providing personalized, high-quality care. Under a concierge medicine model, employees pay an annual fee or retainer to a primary care provider or medical practice. In return, they receive enhanced access to the provider, including longer appointment times, 24/7 availability, and more personalized care. This model allows employees to have a closer relationship with their healthcare provider and receive comprehensive care curated to their needs. By emphasizing preventative care and early intervention, concierge medicine can help lower healthcare costs by reducing the need for costly emergency or specialty care.

These alternative healthcare delivery models offer significant potential cost savings for employers by reducing healthcare expenditures and improving employee health outcomes. By proactively addressing healthcare needs through convenient on-site clinics or direct primary care, employers can help employees access timely and cost-effective care. This, in turn, can reduce hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and other costly interventions. Additionally, these models can attract and retain talent by providing employees with convenient and high-quality healthcare options, enhancing employee satisfaction and recruitment efforts.

Employer Tactic No. 3: Employee Education and Wellness Programs

By investing in initiatives that promote employee health, prevent illness, and encourage healthy behaviors, employers can improve their workforce’s well-being and reduce long-term healthcare costs.

Employee education is a crucial component of any comprehensive healthcare strategy. Many employees are unaware of the importance of preventive care and its role in maintaining their health and detecting health issues early on. By providing education on preventive care benefits, such as regular check-ups, vaccinations, and screenings, employers can empower their workforce to take a proactive approach to their health. Educating employees about the importance of preventive care can lead to fewer health problems, resulting in reduced healthcare expenses associated with treating advanced or chronic conditions.

Wellness programs are another effective tool for promoting employee health and controlling healthcare costs. These programs encourage healthy lifestyles and address common health risks, such as obesity, stress, and sedentary behavior. For example, implementing fitness challenges, offering gym memberships or fitness classes, and providing resources for healthy eating can incentivize employees to adopt healthier habits. By supporting employees in making positive lifestyle choices, employers can reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve overall well-being, lowering healthcare costs over time.

Some examples of wellness programs that have proven to be successful include tobacco cessation programs, mental health support services, and stress reduction initiatives. Tobacco cessation programs can help employees quit smoking, which not only improves their health but also reduces the risk of smoking-related illnesses and associated healthcare expenses. Mental health support services, such as access to counseling or therapy sessions, can assist employees in managing stress, anxiety, or depression, enhancing both their well-being and their ability to perform at work. Stress reduction initiatives, such as mindfulness programs or stress management workshops, can help employees better cope with work-related pressures, ultimately improving their overall health and reducing the risk of stress-related illnesses.

The positive effects of wellness programs go beyond employee health. These initiatives can also boost morale, increase employee engagement, and foster a positive work culture. Investing in the well-being of your workforce sends a clear message that their employees’ health and happiness are valued, leading to higher levels of job satisfaction and productivity. These positive outcomes contribute to improved employee retention, reduced absenteeism, and a healthier bottom line. If you want insight on employee education and wellness programs, contact Workforce Solutions to start building a healthier, happier, and more engaged workforce!

Improving Health Outcomes Amid Healthcare Inflation

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As the cost of medical services, prescription drugs, and hospital care continues to increase, brace yourself for the impending rise in rates when you begin enrolling for the 2024 health insurance plans. By then, employers like yourself will be forced to make difficult decisions about how to best provide coverage to their employees without compromising other aspects of the business. Thus, it is essential to plan and explore effective strategies to manage healthcare inflation, specifically the ones we just discussed:

  • Designing health insurance plans
  • Exploring alternative healthcare delivery models
  • Implementing employee education and wellness programs

Don’t face the challenges of healthcare inflation alone! Reach out to MBE CPAs today and take proactive steps towards improving health outcomes while mitigating the financial impact on your organization. Together, we can develop a comprehensive approach to managing healthcare costs and ensure a healthier future for your employees and business.

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