How to Get the Maximum Value from Healthcare Dollars

The healthcare benefits you offer to employees are good for your team and your company. Healthcare helps with recruiting, retention, productivity and morale, all of which contributes to a healthy bottom line.

But benefits are expensive and costs are on the rise. A survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)1, P D F opens in a new tab reports that 77 percent of businesses have experienced a recent uptick in costs, with 24% of businesses seeing costs increase by 16%.

In companies where expenditures must pay back, it can be helpful to tap a plan provider to make decisions and design a program. Consider the following questions to make sure you are getting the most from your provider:

Do you have someone available who can help identify gaps in your existing health coverage — and design the best option to fit your employees and your budget?

Should your company pass along more of its costs to employees? Is there room in the budget for discounted voluntary products like vision and dental coverage or life and disability insurance? Questions like these arise when you are considering or revisiting coverage. Your healthcare plan provider can be a source of valuable expertise and should be available to help you review and analyze your current benefits program. Plan providers will often make expertise available through educational seminars or individual consultations.

Does your plan offer support for your employees to ask questions about the healthcare plan?

Employees need guidance about issues ranging from making changes or filing claims to questions about eligibility, prescriptions and enrollment. An efficient means of offering this help can be to have a plan that provides this support. Reaching advisors should be as simple as clicking on a website icon that offers a variety of support choices, including live support — online or via chat — email and phone options.

Are you confident that your provider is helping your company manage compliance issues?

The Affordable Care Act has made it even more imperative for business to rely on their providers to serve as sources of updates on ever-evolving regulations and mandates. Companies also need detailed guidance regarding compliance laws such as COBRA, ERISA and HIPAA, as well as using benefits risk-management tools such as carrier eligibility and non-discrimination testing. Updates should be communicated using a variety of methods, including newsletters, advisories, handbooks and meetings.

Are you receiving support in determining a healthcare plan that aligns with your company’s tax liability?

Even basic decisions such as whether to provide traditional health insurance (high premiums, unlimited choices) or managed care (lower, limited choices) need to be viewed through the framework of the company’s tax strategy. More intricate choices — for example, offering health savings accounts so employees can set aside pre-tax dollars to cover out-of-pocket expenses — benefit from having your provider’s knowledgeable input regarding the potential tax consequences.

Is your company receiving wellness information and support for employees?

By providing employees with incentives for healthy behaviors such as weight reduction and smoking cessation, businesses can ultimately lower their health insurance spending. But administering a wellness program that engages employees requires a provider that offers dynamic online tools and resources, health risk assessments and interactive education, as well as wellness logs and calculators.

Are you getting the data analytics you need to keep improving the effectiveness and efficiency of your healthcare plan?

Providers have the technological firepower to collect and analyze vast quantities of data about the performance of your healthcare plan. Given their more limited IT functions, businesses need a way to access the advantages of big data. Not only will the data-driven insights help them spot inefficiencies and predict future needs, but businesses should also be better equipped every year to offer a more customized healthcare benefit that is also more cost-effective.

Want to work with a healthcare provider that can do all this — and more — to help you manage your plan? Go to: http://www.firstcitizens.com/business/insurance/employee-benefits