Over the last several years the cost of healthcare has risen astronomically, especially in the state of Massachusetts. Let’s talk strategy. If you’re a business owner, you owe it to yourself to take an honest moment in your day and think about where your organization is. Think about your employees, your company objectives, your industry and the overall marketplace. Include the local or national competition and emerging opportunities, are you comfortable? Do you think that you are heading in the right direction as a company in terms of what you are offering for Benefits? Today in the evolving dynamic industry of healthcare and employee benefits the most important question to ask as an employer is, “Have I ensured that the overall benefits strategy is aligned with the organizations values, financial goals and strategic plan?” As an employer, the traditional model and one of the most functional components of employee benefits is to use it as an attraction and retention tool. The fact is that the cost of healthcare is not going to decrease in the foreseeable future. This, in turn, could force insurance carriers to release higher rates as each quarter goes by. The saddest part of reform is that the government is doing very little to help subsidize the rising cost of care.
Businesses that are capable can start with a few of these cost-effective strategies that can allow them to manage the fiscal premium outlay. The first thing is to fully understand your employee population makeup. Depending on the size of your organization (less than 50, 50-99, or 100 and over) you are most likely at the helm making all of the vital decisions. Having a clear handle on your population will help you choose the right programs and will help you to have a high employee participation rate. I mentioned tax-advantageous plans in my last blog: Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Savings Accounts (FSA). The core plans offer a premium savings feature for the employer and help employees to be even more conscious of their overall healthcare cost each time they go to the doctor or emergency room.
There are many ways to evaluate the right plan for your organization. One way is to understand the insurance coverage networks. A limited or tiered network may offer a plan with a lower premium. Due diligence is required here to insure proper implementation and employee understanding of program benefits to ensure high retention rates. Another valuation category may be in the area of wellness reimbursements. Some carriers provide fitness reimbursements, etc. that members can take advantage of. Depending on your individual employee population this may be a key factor in enrollment. Overall, there are many ways to evaluate a company benefits program.
Any employer can offer a comprehensive voluntary benefits program that has little to no cost. In today’s environment, a cost-saving plan is extremely challenging to implement. The goals of the organization need to be clearly defined and should always be aligned to meet the needs of its employees. What we are seeing is the majority of companies not only implementing tax-advantageous savings plans, but also having a greater number of options for their employees that extend beyond just the traditional PPO and HMO plans. Employees need options in the workplace today as well as education in light of the changes in plan options. Keeping the employee informed should always be at the top of the list if you choose to implement any major changes or shifts in core benefits.