Healthcare costs in the U.S. are at an all-time high, and organizations and individuals are continually looking for ways to reduce the rising costs and maintain affordability in healthcare. With spending levels reaching unsustainable highs, there are ways that employees and employers can work together to reduce the overall healthcare liabilities. As individuals bemoan the reduction in their take-home pay due to healthcare costs and employers find themselves digging deep to support their employees, all parties are looking for options they can explore together.
Unsustainable Cost Structure
Americans are getting older — and sicker — all the time, leading to an unsustainable structure in healthcare costs which puts a massive burden on individuals who are currently in the workforce. Healthcare spending has risen nearly a trillion dollars from 1996 to 2015 according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. Much of these costs are attributed to the utilization of medical services, service price and intensity as well as the cost of pharmaceutical drugs, making up nearly 50% of that trillion dollar increase. With an aging population and the country’s overall population growth as contributing factors, it’s not surprising that this structure has grown to be unsustainable over the past several years.
Collaborative Efforts Between Employers and Employees
Medical bills are becoming increasingly confusing to decipher, and when you add in the insurance amount paid — many people simply aren’t equipped to make good monetary decisions about their care. The lack of transparency in healthcare billing is exacerbated by the lack of communication between insurance brokers, employers, and employees. Human resources personnel and insurance brokers must take a more active role in communicating the challenges surrounding rising healthcare. In turn, it is in the best interest of employees to ensure that they follow recommendations for frequency and usage of their healthcare plans to maintain the best possible health. The best potential for change comes from committed employers and proactive employees working together to stem these rising costs.
Becoming Smart Healthcare Consumers
Part of an employee’s duty is to become a smart consumer of healthcare. This doesn’t mean skipping a doctor visit when you are truly ill, or reducing life-saving medications. Instead, it means taking action to maintain a healthy lifestyle and practice adequate self-care. Part of that care for oneself includes getting an annual physical, mammograms and prostate exams as needed. These preventative treatments can help catch life-threatening diseases in their early stages when it is easier — and less expensive — to treat them. Selecting the right healthcare provider for your needs also plays a part in being a smart healthcare consumer. Employees need to become educated about the coverage levels that are offered by their insurance, and determine whether their particular doctor is in-network or out of network, which will affect their reimbursement rates. Here are some additional tips for helping reduce your overall healthcare costs:
- Select healthcare facilities that are considered in-network to save out-of-pocket costs
- Learn the basics of your healthcare plan, including the deductible, co-insurance costs and what the maximum out-of-pocket costs are for individuals and families
- Actively review your healthcare paperwork to be sure that everything was billed accurately and that you are paying the full amount due after insurance has covered the basics
- Look for online responses to basic medical concerns, sticking to trusted sites such as WebMD or your provider’s website
Each of these tactics will help you become a more well-informed and effective user of healthcare services in the future.
Understanding ways to reduce the healthcare vulnerabilities of Americans starts with the consumer, ensuring that they fully understand the various options available for their healthcare and can utilize them effectively. Delaying visits to healthcare providers can be extremely damaging to an individual’s health, making it crucial to raise the comfort level that healthcare consumers have with their insurance offerings.
Looking for a benefits partner that can help you explain the intricacies of your insurance program to your constituents? Contact CoreMark today at 866.340.2247 to see how their team adds value by helping get the most out of your various programs. One of the best times to fully explain healthcare programs and get employees on board is at the time of their initial hire. Download our free guide to boosting your teams’ benefits IQ here: Step-by-Step Guide for Introducing New Employee Benefits.