It seems like programs encouraging people to improve their overall health would reduce healthcare costs as they improve the overall healthiness of the risk pool. Hundreds of studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of wellness programs – and employers have invested millions of dollars – but the evidence for their ability to improve employee health and lower employer healthcare costs just isn’t there.
A recent study, whose findings were published as a working paper at the National Bureau of Economic Research, shows:
- Money isn’t an incentive that encourages participation
- Participation in wellness programs didn’t result in better health outcomes or lower healthcare costs
If a wellness program offers other significant benefits to your workplace, by all means, carry on! But to right-size your healthcare benefits costs, look to a solution that allows people to avoid over-spending on their health insurance plan.
When all you have is a few minutes once a year at open enrollment or new hire orientation, it’s all too easy for the rich benefits you provide your employees to go overlooked and underappreciated – lost in the shuffle of the benefits presentation and plan overview book. Overwhelmed employees give the offering a cursory glance, select the plan most similar to the one they had last year, and hope for the best.
A customizable health plan selection tool, on the other hand, offers numerous opportunities to highlight your contributions to their healthcare benefits package. Good for you for prioritizing transparency in your communications. Your employees will thank you.
Prescription drugs are the primary healthcare cost for many people. But the usual healthcare decision support tools don’t sufficiently accommodate this need with their $15/$50/$100 tiered estimate for generic, brand-name and specialty drugs.
For health plan shoppers with a specific drug need, an advanced formulary tool will uncover the real, local cost of the prescription in question – including available co-pay assistance – under the health plans on offer. To accommodate high deductible health plans, the cost estimator should also be able to display the monthly costs (likely higher up-front) as well as the total annual out-of-pocket costs.
When people know and are able to plan for their actual prescription costs ahead of time, they are much more likely to adhere to their medication regime, which may improve health and lower overall healthcare costs.
Maybe you’re offering a high deductible health plan for the first time, eliminating the PPO plan or lowering your premium contribution. No matter the change – and no matter how small – it’s scary for the people you support. A time like this is probably the best time to introduce an intuitive health plan decision support solution that gives your employees a sense of control regarding their healthcare coverage choices.
Daizy reassures your employees with answers to their most common questions:
- Can I see my doctor?
- Are my prescriptions covered?
- How much is my healthcare really going to cost me every month? This year?
There are many methods to encourage the selection of high deductible health plans (HDHPs). Incentives like greater sponsor cost-sharing, lower premiums, and contributions to health savings accounts are most common, and HDHPs are increasingly popular. A 2018 report from Benefitfocus The State of Employee Benefits Report found that the average employer had 35% of employees enrolled in a HDHP. The report also found HDHPs are more popular among younger employees. Employees who elect HDHPs earn a salary 7% higher, on average, than those employees who enroll in a PPO plan.
A recent paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found typical savings for HDHP enrollees is about $500 annually, but employees continue to enroll in lower-deductible plans at high rates. Largely because “it is quite difficult to compare insurance plan options that differ on the basis of premiums, cost-sharing rules and even contributions to health savings and reimbursement accounts.”
A smart decision-support tool takes all of these elements into account when calculating monthly and annual out-of-pocket costs, so a health plan shopper will be able to select the right health plan for them.
Lack of reliable information. It’s the reason, despite the high costs of the purchase and making the wrong decision, many people spend 15 minutes or less researching their health plan options. It’s a lot like online dating; if it’s all the roll of a dice anyway, the thinking goes, glance at the picture and go with your gut. When there is easy access to useful real-costs information, people can confidently make the right health insurance choice for them.