Healthcare costs keep rising for employers, and nonprofits are often hit the hardest. There are many ways in which employers try to bring down the costs for the organization, but often at the expense of the employee. Sometimes it can feel like a lose-lose situation.
But exploring the ways in which employers can better educate their employees on how to spot the hidden costs of healthcare, can reduce healthcare costs for everyone. Once they know just how much certain services will cost, they might think about a better path to get the healthcare they need.
With heavy advertising of prescription drugs these days, consumers are more likely to go for the brand-name drug. A recent article Lindquist LLP “Many patients think that a prescription drug or a visit to the doctor costs little more than their co-pay, which may be as small as $15 to $20,” says Lindquist LLP.
But if you take the time to educate employees at least once or twice a year about how much healthcare really costs and why to pay attention to drug costs – it can bring down overall costs significantly. Employees should:
- Ask their doctors and pharmacies about generic drugs, which can be much cheaper
- Ask if a mail-order pharmacy can provide the same drug at a cheaper cost
- Find out if ordering a multiple-month supply brings down Rx costs
Lindquist LLP also recommends taking a look at a consumer directed health care plan, which means employees bear a larger amount of financial responsibility when it comes to their medical care. Knowing the true cost helps them determine whether a costly prescription or procedure is truly needed.
Some carriers can help compare costs and will provide an online database to help calculate expenses. In the Lindquist article they point out that an MRI, which can cost over a thousand dollars, might be less necessary in the eyes of the patient if they know just how much it costs. Especially if it will end up impacting their direct out-of-pocket costs in your healthcare plan.
Promoting overall health also helps reduce costs long term. By providing incentives or reimbursement (either through your carrier or through your organization) for staying healthy – by going to the gym, entering in local races, purchasing running shoes, enrolling in a diet plan – employees will need to take fewer trips to the doctor.
While moving to consumer directed health care plans and high-deductible plans can help put the employee in the driver’s seat when it comes to covering their healthcare costs – it is important that employers offer the education and resources available to lower those costs. Weighing the pros and cons of these types of plans is always important, but educating employees regardless of plan type is absolutely crucial.