Healthcare Cost Cutting Initiatives on the Rise in 2015

The National Business Group on Health recently surveyed employers representing 7.5 million workers and the findings are in: higher deductibles and wellness programs are heavily on the rise.

Specifically, the survey found:

  • 81% of employers are planning to introduce high-deductible health plans (HDHP) to their benefits package offerings (a 9% rise from the previous year)
  • 32% of employers will only provide HDHP options (a 10% rise from the previous year)

Although, HDHPs (plans with deductibles >$1,250 per person) can reduce a company’s healthcare costs, they are not the only way to do so.

53% of companies surveyed indicated plans to either introduce, or increase investment in, corporate wellness programs in 2015. These population health measures help employees manage weight, quit or cut back on smoking, and reduce other risk factors that increase healthcare utilization (and employer costs). Often, employer wellness programs are paired with financial incentives to encourage employees to adopt healthy behaviors to reduce costs for both the employer and the employee.

There is no ‘right’ way for employers to control healthcare costs

At the end of the day, employers wrestle with providing some form of coverage while staying afloat financially. It isn’t a challenge that most employees necessarily appreciate, but it’s a reality that leaders have to face yearly.

This raises numerous questions about how to structure your healthcare benefits, but the answer for each employer is ultimately unique. Companies need to individually examine the right mixture of cost-cutting initiatives to address their budgetary concerns, not adopt a packaged approach.

As you examine your company’s budget for healthcare expenditures going into 2015, consider the following:

  • Population health interventions have a middle-to-long term impact timeline, but near term return-on-investment is not easily understood.
  • The value of population health initiatives relies, typically, on scale and employer cultural adoption.
  • HDHPs are an immediate way to reduce costs, but they can be a “shock to the system” for the way households plan their budgets.
  • Network access limitation, specialty medicine rules, and prior authorization requirements can also reduce costs, but change management communications are critical to ensuring employees understand what’s happening.
  • Defined Contribution models (where employers set aside set dollar amounts per employee and allow employees to select from a range of plans), like those hosted through Bloom Health’s platform, are another innovative way to predict and contain costs.

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Chicago, IL 60606
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