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Your Health | one year ago

3 Ways Employers Can Reduce Healthcare Costs

3 Ways Employers Can Reduce Healthcare Costs

By Dr. Larry Raymond, Medical Director, HEALTHWORKS division, Carolinas HealthCare System

Healthcare costs continue to rise and outpace inflation. After years of double-digit increases, experts estimate these expenses will grow by 6.5 percent in the next year alone. While this slowdown is a positive sign, it does beg the question: Why do we so consistently see the cost of health and wellness skyrocketing well beyond the increasing rates we see with other goods and services? Unfortunately, there are several factors involved – from the way medical practices and hospitals compete to the parameters doctors must navigate when providing care. Addressing these challenges is no easy task and must be part of a larger conversation that engages a variety of stakeholders.

The positive news is that employers and employees can take steps today to help curb increases at their own company and reduce their shared cost burden. Here are three key factors driving healthcare costs that employers and employees can address together.

  1. Improve Employee Health – Healthcare costs are rising in large part because Americans have a high prevalence of chronic disease and medical issues, such as diabetes, obesity, asthma and heart disease. These conditions can lead to ongoing illness which hurts productivity, requires treatment and inflates overall costs. Employers and employees can help keep these numbers in check through preventive care, wellness screenings and health coaching.
  1. Newer Treatments are Pricier – As we see in other industries, a new offering can often be the most expensive. New treatments are commonly billed as the best option, but they also can carry the highest price tag. In many instances, a newer treatment does not necessarily equate better outcomes for the worker-patient. While we never discourage any employee from pursuing the best care available, it’s important that employers help educate employees on the options available and the pros and cons of each treatment. Similar to selecting a generic prescription over a name brand, some careful shopping can uncover a less expensive choice that will produce the same health result. Encouraging employees not to press for antibiotics for cold symptoms can be another win-win strategy.
  1. Employees are Disconnected from the Purchase Process – Insurance programs can be complex. With many employers managing the details of a company plan, employees often do not invest the time to truly understand the intricacies of their plan or shop for procedures and tests the way they would any other product. By providing price comparison resources and offering guidance on navigating insurance options, employers can help their employees research and find the most cost effective care options within the market.

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For more information on programs and tools that can help lower the healthcare costs at your company while helping keep your employees healthy and fit, please visit our website, or follow us on Twitter @HEALTHWORKS and LinkedIn