The uncertainty surrounding the future of healthcare in the United States has put many Americans on edge. The proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with the Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act (or Better Care Reconciliation Act) is making people feel unsure, and possibly leaving many Americans uninsured.
While questions remain about the future of healthcare in America, we do know the consequences — both good and bad — of the ACA: more people are covered by health insurance than ever before, but many employers and employees pay a higher cost for care.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average employer-sponsored family healthcare plan cost $12,680 in 2008, with employees paying about $3,355. In 2016, the cost for the same plan increased to over $18,000, with employees paying about $5,275.
Whether costs go up or down for employers and their employees under new healthcare legislation remains to be seen, but there are steps employers can take now to reduce their healthcare spend.
1. Add Telemedicine to Your Insurance Plan
Telemedicine saves time and money and helps prevent illness by connecting patients with doctors via video conferencing. Implementing telemedicine can cut down on unnecessary trips to a doctor’s office, which prevents employees from having to take time off work.
Telemedicine is particularly helpful for employers who have employees in rural areas and who have long-term medical needs for chronic illnesses like diabetes or COPD. With telemedicine, doctors can monitor these patients remotely via telemedicine instead of requiring long trips to and from the nearest hospital.
In addition, telemedicine costs are less expensive. Virtual doctor’s appointments average around $45 per visit versus Urgent Care costs that start at $150 and emergency room visits that start at $250.
More than 70% of patients say they would use a telemedicine service if available. Ask your insurance provider if a telemedicine service like Doctor on Demand can be added to your insurance plan.
2. Look for a Plan with Care Coordination and Navigation
People are starting to consider themselves consumers of healthcare products, which means they require a higher level of service and more communication along their healthcare journey.
Insurance plans that incorporate a care coordination and navigation model guide plan participants through the healthcare process, reducing healthcare spend along the way.
Care coordinators keep stakeholders informed and ensure the delivery of the best possible care for a patient. They act as a trusted and knowledgeable resource to help participants get the most out of their healthcare services. Implementing care coordination reduces healthcare spending by making the care delivery process more efficient and actively helping members become healthier over time.
In fact, care coordination reduces wasteful spending and can cut healthcare costs by between 7 and 8 percent in the first year, and up to 20 percent by year three, without cutting benefits. Care coordinators facilitate this savings by intercepting treatment and claims in real-time and eliminating any redundant or unnecessary services.
3. Consider Self-Funding
The increasing uncertainty surrounding the future of healthcare means many small to medium-sized businesses are considering self-funding. The number of businesses offering self-insured plans increased by 19% for midsized companies and 7% for small companies from 2013 to 2015, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute.
Adopting the self-funded insurance model helps employers lower costs and offers more control than the traditional insurance model. It puts control back in the hands of business owners so they are able to make decisions on how to spend cash set aside for healthcare rather than relinquishing power to an insurance company. By paying for claims as they come in and not having to prepay for coverage, self-funded companies gain more control of their cash flow.
Additionally, self-funding uses third-party administrators to pay claims and manage eligibility. These service teams handle day-to-day issues, which allows HR to concentrate on core responsibilities.
All of these attributes of self-funding tie into costs savings. In their first year with Apta Health, 53% of clients see a reduction in their healthcare costs. As time goes on, clients continue to see cost savings, with an average cost reduction of 20% by year three.
Apta Health understands the uncertainty of today’s healthcare landscape and the need to reduce healthcare spend. Our extraordinary healthcare program combines the best solutions in the industry with cutting-edge technology to reduce wasteful spending and drastically bend the trend of rising healthcare costs.
Apta Health works through the broker community. We partner with healthcare brokers and act as an extension of their team. Contact us to help your clients proactively manage their health plans and reduce wasteful spending.