From the Blog

10 Ways to Slash Benefit Costs Now

1.  If it Works, Copy It

There is a simple, proven 2-part benefits design structure that is saving companies 10% to 20% today. Combine a high-deductible, consumer-directed health plan with a wellness program that drives participation with incentives. Engage the chronically ill in care management programs, again using incentives. Why? It works. The best companies do it already, and employees appreciate it more. Ask your broker. (Or us).

2.  Demand Information Now

Can you imagine not demanding the latest forecasts from sales? Demand information from your people that you need to drive company performance (employee health, well-being, energy level, work-life alignment, and more).Know ALL your numbers. Insist that your vendors share actionable information with you. What’s your alternative? Without knowledge, you handcuff strategy creation. You get scattershot execution. And you do employees no favors by choosing ignorance or uninformed “don’t make waves” attitudes. They’re not as healthy. They perform worse. They pay more for insurance, too. And even scarier, they go undiagnosed.

3.  Make Everyone Accountable for Healthcare Dollars – and Reward the Right Behaviors

You are a leader. You get to design the processes that shape the success of your company in all areas, even in the ignored and maligned backwaters of benefits. Assess the strategic drivers of employee performance, and then help people improve them. Start with consumer-directed benefit plans and clear incentives for healthy behaviors (and care engagement for the chronically ill) to send the right message. Communicate clearly, consistently and candidly ‘Why?’ and everyone will get it. Psst… People spend their own money differently than they spend your money.Even in a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) – employees act frugally to reduce next year’s out of pocket expenses. Give a clear path to employees: Participate and benefit personally, socially and financially. Tell your broker or consultant your vision and they can put the details together. Resist the temptation to be timid.

4.  Walk the Walk

Your CEO, CFO and HR leaders must embody the prevention and productivity-focused strategy. Walk the walk, then talk the talk. Get your assessments and screenings done first. Show up every day energized for work. Take the stairs. Banish heart disease-, diabetes- and cancer-producing diets from the cafeteria. Establish a smoke-free campus, and pay for smoking cessation programs (they work). Get your preventive care done and let others know you did. Evangelize how your career was built on sustainably high emotional and physical energy. Share your personal improvement plans. Challenge people to outdo you (and many will).

5.  Share the Dollar Value of Your Benefits with Every Employee.

If you are like an average US company, health insurance costs about $8,000 per employee per year. When people see what health services cost, they opt for lower cost options. Cost transparency alone can save 20% on health costs. It’s their money – coming from their paychecks. Help employees and their dependents understand your commitment to making care affordable. Share your data in absolute terms, not “versus what you got last year.” Now that’s a retention driver.

6.  Show You Care

“I believe my company sincerely cares about my well-being.” Your employees’ answer to this question is the #1 predictor of their engagement at work. And engagement unequivocally predicts profits. Put something out there every year, every month and every day that says, “I am actively investing in your well-being.”

7.  Never Double Insure

This is a simple, tactical way to get huge cost savings. Create and enforce clear policies that disallow double coverage for all new and existing hires with coverage elsewhere (e.g. through a spouse’s company). You recycle cans and paper. You turn off the lights at night. Make it clear that wasting $8,000 a year on health insurance is not only financially irresponsible but morally wrong. Waste has no place in your company.

8.  Cut Fat

Encourage employees to think improving behaviors before they turn to drugs, and get aggressive about purchasing generics. All common conditions can be well managed on generics these days – and they’re as cheap as 9 bucks for 90 days. In some plans they’re free. Make sure employees see the savings. Next, promote low cost health screenings, onsite clinics and retail settings with posted prices. Your broker or consultant should do everything under the sun to get you the best network. Last, make sure your deductible is not too low versus what your business competitors offer.

9.  Build a Culture of Performance

There are a lot of myths about performance, the most insidious of which is that you can’t measure it. You can.Measure all the key drivers of personal and organizational performance. Study the numbers for your workforce. Understand how health, productivity, well-being and financial performance interconnect. Then build value-priced strategies to improve in the right areas. Don’t forget to evangelize and model the behaviors you expect from everyone. Use challenges, peer support and communications that reinforce both personal and corporate performance.

10.  Do it Now