Monday, 17 July 2017 20:49

Reducing Health Care Costs

There aren't many ways you can reduce health care costs without taking something away from your employees.  If your medical plan is experience rated, self-insured and/or you provide an HRA with a high deductible plan, this may be a great solution for your organization.

Telemedicine is quickly growing as a way to supplement your medical program and the way to receive care.  The program enables people to save time and money by calling a board certified physician over the phone and getting prescriptions that they need rather than taking the time and incurring the cost of actually going to the doctor.  This is certainly no replacement for medical insurance, but considering the growth of high deductible health plans, unnecessary office visits, difficulty getting an appointment, etc., people are looking for creative ways to save money and improve convenience.

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There are not many changes you can make to your medical program that will reduce costs without having an adverse impact on your employees. 

Did you know that 81% of companies with over 200 employees are self-insured (with stop loss), and 55% of firms with 200-999 employees are also self-insured?  Even 16% of companies with less than 200 employees have self-insured medical plans (Source: Kaiser 2014 Benefits Survey). 

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Why Promote Wellness?

According to a recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Education Trust, 81 percent of large employers and 49 percent of small employers offer wellness programs to their employees. These programs aim to improve employees’ well-being by encouraging them to lose weight, stop smoking or make other positive lifestyle changes.

What is Workplace Wellness?

Workplace wellness refers to the education and activities that a worksite may sponsor in order to promote healthy lifestyles for their employees and their families. Examples of wellness initiatives include health education classes, subsidized use of fitness facilities and internal policies or programs that promote healthy behavior.

Do Wellness Programs Really Work?

When sponsoring a wellness program, the main hurdle to success is employee engagement. The benefits of wellness programs can only be realized if a significant number of your employees take part in your efforts. In order to gain buy-in, some businesses offer employees an incentive for participating or reaching certain health goals.

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Between rising healthcare costs, changes to community ratings and healthcare reform efforts, there’s no question the employee benefits landscape is continually changing — and keeping the hands of benefits managers full.

With all these changes, employers need to think creatively when it comes to building and administering their health plans. While consumer driven plans and health reimbursement accounts are not new, they are becoming much more commonplace and their importance is now greater than ever. HRAs, in particular can help employers create a self-insurance plan for their employees and maintain rich benefits.

HRAs help employees pay for medical expenses before a deductible is met. They’re essentially employer-funded group health plans that reimburse employees for medical expenses up to a certain dollar amount. Employers fund and own the accounts — which means they get to keep all savings and any unused funds. HRAs can help employers in a number of ways.

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