It’s that time of year again. Fall brings a chill in the air, pumpkin-spiced everything, and of course, healthcare enrollment discussions!
As an Arlington business leader, you are probably in the early stages of meeting with your HR team to think through employee coverage options for the coming year. Like many employers across the U.S., you are also likely adjusting your coverage as a result of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) Cadillac Tax, which raises health insurance rates for robust plan offerings. As you and your team gather information to make the best decisions for your employees, here are a few key considerations for keeping costs down and ensuring quality care options in 2016.
Understand Your Workforce
Large employers obviously have to serve the healthcare needs of a wide range of people, but even large workforces have unique characteristics that must be analyzed prior to plan selection. For example, say your Northern Virginia consulting firm employs a high number of young professionals. Higher cost plans with a wide range of services may initially look more appealing, but if your team of healthy twenty-somethings isn’t going to use those services, the costs won’t make sense.
A simple employee health benefits survey can do wonders for better understanding the needs of your workforce. The data on what folks truly value could surprise you, and is invaluable to selecting the right plan for your team.
Dig Into Usage Data
Employee utilization rates are another great source of information to review as you move through plan selection. Understanding the health services that made a difference to folks in 2015 is critical to choosing the right options for 2016.
One particularly important issue is identifying how many of your employees have a primary care physician (PCP). Unnecessary emergency room visits are one of the biggest costs to the healthcare system, and educating employees on when to use their PCP and when to use the emergency room can deliver enormous savings for large employers. Many of today’s health plans offer mobile applications that can help your employees make these decisions on the fly, and find the closest Urgent Care Centers in the event they are needed.
Choose a Network that Can Handle Your Geography
Many large employers headquartered in Northern Virginia have satellite offices and remote employees spread throughout the country. To make sure that all of them receive access to the same levels of consistent, quality care, look for a health insurance provider with a national network. Your HR team will also thank you for being able to simply and easily administer coverage to folks in different geographies from the same plan.
A national network also provides your people with a wider range of options, particularly in cases where a major procedure is required. The ability to evaluate a variety of doctors and specialists in a number of locations is extremely important. I know from having both of my knees replaced last year that this process isn’t easy, but the ability to research a number of surgeons across the Mid-Atlantic region was critical to the great care I received, and to my peace of mind.
Provide Innovative Options for Your Most Vulnerable Employees
Folks dealing with serious, ongoing health issues obviously have a different set of needs than those that get a check-up once a year. As you review plan options for the coming year, it’s important to keep the needs of these people in mind, and prioritize providers that offer care coordination and disease management services.
For example, if an employee has diabetes, these services can be customized to guide their entire care experience, including tracking upcoming appointments, accessing necessary medication information, and ensuring that treatment is completed. This end-to-end care management not only helps your employees get well faster, but it helps them proactively manage their ailment in a way that reduces the need for redundant services in the future.
Increase Employee Satisfaction with Easy-to-Use Technology
Finally, emerging technology is empowering consumers to take control of their healthcare decisions
Emerging tools are helping people instantly search for the best and most cost-effective doctors and services in their area. The Yelp model of online research has come to healthcare, and this instant access to critical information is something employees truly value, and should be at the top of your list when choosing a plan.
As the health care landscape continues to evolve and shift so should the way we find, select, enroll and manage our health insurance plans. By following these recommendations, and keeping these best practices for cost savings and selecting quality plans in mind, you can ensure you continue to find the very best options for both your company and employees.