If you own a business, you may offer employee benefits to attract and retain the talent you need to succeed. But in the current healthcare environment, the cost of group medical benefits has skyrocketed.
By George Rose
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the 2013 premium for group health insurance is expected to average more than $11,000 per employee. At these rates, how can your company afford to offer a valuable benefits package? And what will new healthcare legislation mean for employer-sponsored medical coverage?
Employers have important choices to make about the way they plan to comply with the Affordable Care Act. Before all of the provisions of the act become effective, employers can discuss and implement strategies to reduce health care premiums and risks, and minimize the business impact of the ACA on their business.
Smart Consumers. Engage employees in the insurance-buying decision and the delivery of the care they receive by making the costs more transparent. Rather than providing benefits that keep employees in the dark, fund health savings accounts (HSAs) or health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs) that allow employees to pick and choose their own plans. Some will opt for high-deductible, low-cost plans, while others may prefer more traditional coverage.
- Wellness Focus. Communicate with employees about the benefits of staying healthy and offer ways to improve their health at work. This can be as simple as encouraging team competitions that revolve around exercise, or offering flu shots, blood-pressure readings and cholesterol testing onsite. It can be as sophisticated as hosting clinic hours at work or providing employees information about how rising healthcare costs impact the company’s ability to provide higher salaries.
- Carrots and Sticks. Motivate employees to stay healthy and make good choices about medical care. Incentives might include a lower share of premium cost if employees complete a no-smoking program, lose weight or complete preventive care procedures. Conversely, employees can be told that continuing to smoke or failing to follow healthcare guidelines will result in them paying higher premiums (subject to federal guidelines).
- Investing in your employees’ health carries dividends beyond lowering healthcare costs for the company—it often results in greater productivity and reduced absenteeism. Identifying the right approach for your business is essential in ensuring your company’s financial stability and ability to grow.
George Rose is a business relationship manager for Wells Fargo in Houston.