healthcare cost
Employee Benefits

The Dreaded Healthcare Cost Question

Jen Kivlin
Jen Kivlin
Vice President, Employee Benefits Strategic Leadership

“Why are our healthcare costs going through the roof?”  It’s the call you don’t want to receive, but if you’re involved in employee benefits, you probably have at some point. I’ve been there myself. It’s not hard to provide the facts — that’s the easy part. “We had a big spike in emergency room usage.” “Outpatient claims are up.” Or, like many employers, “Our plan just had several large claims come through.”

While the first question isn’t fun, this dreaded follow-up question is much harder. “So what should we have done to prevent this from happening?” This is where many get trapped and scramble for an answer.

Rising healthcare costs aren’t just temporary bad luck. After all, there’s been a 25 percent increase in claims over $1 million in the last year according to the most recent Sun Life Stop-Loss Research Report. The No. 3 spot for the most common condition was chronic/end-stage renal disease, most commonly caused by diabetes and high blood pressure. Plus, a staggering 1 in 3 Americans are at risk for this disease.

So what can you do about it?

  • Understand your risk tolerance. Be sure you take the time to understand your options and choose a method and level of funding that aligns with your company’s needs. Taking on too much OR too little risk can be a costly mistake.
  • Embrace your company culture. Benefits are personal to your employees — and they are expensive for your company. The “best” designed strategies created in a silo can quickly become a complete flop (not to mention they can cause a lot of headaches along the way). Getting leaders aligned from the beginning on cultural beliefs and where you want to move as an organization can pay dividends when it comes to creating a successful strategy to control costs.
  • Have a plan and do SOMETHING. There are a staggering amount of factors affecting healthcare costs. It’s the most complex consumer-facing industry in the country, and Washington…..well, there are no answers coming from there right now. You can’t prevent everything from happening, but can you afford to do nothing? It’s not a quick fix, and waiting until you have a desperate situation may force desperate decisions.

Lastly, reach out to us! We have a thorough understanding of what you’re going through, and there probably hasn’t been a question we haven’t addressed. Don’t ever feel like you have to figure out these turbulent healthcare times by yourself.

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