Managing WellnessNavigating Benefits

Strategies to Reduce Health Care Costs: How Employers Can Help


  • Create a culture that empowers employees to partake in wellness efforts and preventive treatment

  • Highlight the cost-saving benefits of pairing high-deductible plans with HSAs

  • Encourage employees to research health care costs before committing to possibly unnecessary treatments

Posted by July 18, 2019

When employers help their staff find strategies to reduce health care costs, it’s a win-win for everyone. Oftentimes employees forgo routine checkups because they’re worried about what it’ll cost them. When employers help them navigate this complex system, employees are more likely to put their health first, which could mean less absenteeism, more productivity, and a stronger workforce overall.

Even Alex Azar, the U.S. secretary of health and human services, wants employers to take the lead in helping employees understand the costs associated with health care.

Here’s how employers can help their staff save money on health care, without compromising the quality of their coverage.

Encourage Preventive Care

Everyone can cut their health care costs down by focusing on preventive care and healthier living. A workplace wellness program can help. These typically include exercise classes, weight loss initiatives, smoking cessation support or even chronic-disease management guidance. All of these can help lower medical costs for your employees in the long run.

Employers can further encourage preventive care by offering in-house vaccinations and granting employees paid time off for medical appointments. Aside from cost concerns, employees might put off doctor’s visits for fear of missing work. Allowing this flexibility lets them focus on their wellness and work—without a blow to their paycheck. Make it clear that health should always come first.

Pair High-Deductible Plans With HSAs

High-deductible plans often incentivize employees to carefully consider their medical expenses and make sure they’re getting their money’s worth. Despite having lower monthly premiums, these plans require meeting a higher deductible before expenses are covered. Employers can help ease the deductible burden by encouraging employees to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) in conjunction with high-deductible plans. Tax-free HSAs can help cover medical expenses until the deductible is met.

Watch for Unnecessary Treatments

Unnecessary treatments can add up and ultimately hurt an employee’s pocketbook. A study by NPR found that in America, $210 billion is spent every year on unneeded procedures or care. But how can employees identify what is and isn’t necessary?

When employees are looking for a physician, help them choose one that works closely with other physicians. This way, there is an open dialogue between everyone so no unnecessary tests are ordered. When getting bloodwork, tell them to ask for a list of everything being tested beforehand, to make sure nothing extra’s thrown in. Help them research treatments and have them consider physical therapy before opting for surgery. And, always have them get second opinions before dishing out any major money.

Look for Other Money-Saving Opportunities

Always keep an eye out for money-saving opportunities to pass on to employees. Savings can be found in pharmacy benefits, like choosing generic drugs. Also, mail-in pharmacies may help lower the amount of money your employees are spending on some prescriptions, through a lower co-pay or a discount for ordering three months at a time.

Some insurance programs offer transparency tools that let employees estimate the costs of procedures before they get them.

Have an Expert Available

Employers should have a health care expert available to answer questions, whether it’s someone in HR or a health care agent. Let employees know they’re always welcome to schedule meetings with these authorities, and that they won’t be penalized for taking an hour from their workday to do so.

Azar believes employers should “connect patients with providers or some other trusted intermediaries.” By having people in these roles, employees won’t have to decipher complicated health care questions alone.

You might also want to have a nurse who can come in once a week or once a month and answer employees’ health questions. Not only does this show a commitment to preventive care, but nurses can help pinpoint unnecessary treatments.

Reduced Health Care Spending Benefits Everyone

By helping employees make better health care decisions, employers can ensure their staff is getting the most out of their benefits and is receiving only the best and absolutely necessary treatments. In addition, lowering costs can help both employers and employees, and financial wellness can actually improve one’s health in and of itself.

Finding strategies to reduce health care costs is a worthwhile venture—both for your organization as a whole and for the people who keep it running day in and day out.

Looking resources to help you decide on the best insurance plan for your organization? Explore the Dental Plan Navigator hosted on United Concordia Dental’s website.

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