As the cost of healthcare continues to increase across the United States, employers are facing larger financial burdens. Because of this, companies may be tempted to make adjustments to their employee healthcare benefit programs based on cost alone as a way to alleviate the strain on their budgets. Employers, however, are not alone.
Existing employees and job seekers alike are also feeling the pressure as out-of-pocket medical costs and healthcare insurance deductibles are on the rise. This means benefits packages are being evaluated at a much higher level of scrutiny than ever before.
In today’s healthcare landscape, is it possible for employers to create an employee healthcare program that is both competitive and cost-effective? Moreover, can a new employee healthcare strategy also benefit the employer?
The answer to both questions is yes.
The first step an employer must take is provide education around healthcare benefits. This small change, when implemented, can have a big impact.
MetLife’s 2014 Employee Benefits Trends Study found that 37 percent of respondents “strongly agreed” they needed more assistance in understanding what healthcare packages are offered to them, as well as how they benefit from them.
This means it’s not enough just to have competitive employee healthcare benefits – employers need to thoroughly explain healthcare benefits packages and clarify any lingering questions a prospective employee may have. Furthermore, education during enrollment periods can also help with the retention of current employees, especially when there are any policy changes.
Not only will this result in employees having a better understanding of their benefits, MetLife found employees were more than twice as likely to consider themselves “very loyal” to an employer when given more insight into their healthcare benefits package.
Making purely cost-based cuts in healthcare for employees may have a positive, short-term impact on the bottom line, but taking a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to re-evaluating healthcare benefits for employees will pay off in the long-run. For example, employees are happier, healthier and less prone to absenteeism when they have better access to preventative healthcare options.
A value-based healthcare benefits package will enable companies to save money while at the same time recruiting the employees they want and retain them – something that has become more critical as today’s younger workforce is more likely to change jobs at a rate exceeding that of previous generations. According to a 2012 survey conducted by the online recruitment platform, Monster, the majority of responding job seekers – 32 percent – valued healthcare benefits more than any other part of a benefits package.
Companies can balance the actual health value and cost of benefits for employees with a value-based healthcare strategy. This strategy consists of targeted wellness, price transparency, health advocacy, population health management, and narrow networks of high performance providers. Self-insured employers have, in an accelerating rate, chosen to build a solution that bundles all of these services into a worksite health clinic, a comprehensive offering that delivers a highly valued benefit while at the same time containing healthcare costs for employers and promoting employee productivity.
In addition, having better healthcare benefits available can result in a positively enhanced brand reputation, since employees and job seekers willingly share information about what benefits they are and are not receiving. And in recent years, benefits information has become even more accessible, thanks to the Internet and career websites like Glassdoor, where past and present employees can openly share their work experiences.
Ultimately it is up to an employer to determine what healthcare solutions work best for their employees, as well as their budget. It is crucial, however, to still evaluate the quality of employee healthcare being offered, as it can be one of the most powerful recruitment and retention tools a company has.