How To Make Healthcare Benefits Less Of A Headache

Providing healthcare for workers has never been so expensive, but it’s never been so necessary either. In the midst of a raging pandemic, your employees need to know that an unforeseen medical setback isn’t going to crash their finances. With the right plans in place, business leaders can prevent those headaches from ever reaching their teams in the first place.

Even so, footing the bill is tough and getting tougher: per-worker business healthcare costs now sit at somewhere north of $15,000 annually, and that number is rising at double the rate of inflation. In order to make those numbers work, leaders need to keep everything running as smoothly as possible — the less headache you incur, the more value you’re getting out of your healthcare plan. Here’s how to do it:

With the right plans in place, business leaders can prevent those headaches from ever reaching their … [+]

Managing a healthcare plan can sometimes feel like pulling on an endless string of paperwork, hoping you eventually coax out what you’re looking for. The more time you spend on documentation management, the more money you’ve lost through wasted working hours. The answer here isn’t to throw up your hands and declare defeat — it’s to find a solution that genuinely works.

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Some providers are starting to offer the ability to streamline the information retrieval process. Hamilton Insurance Agency recently launched a benefits administration app that allows both employers and employees to access relevant handbooks, insurance cards, electronic enrollment, consolidated billing, and more.

While document consolidation services will likely become the norm over the coming years, adopting one now can save you lots of headache in the near future.

You should only be paying for the aspects of your healthcare program that are working and useful to your employees. If your own workers aren’t finding value in a major part of your healthcare plan, that’s a sign that it may be time to switch things up.

Qualtrics, which offers a number of healthcare-focused satisfaction surveys, recommends egalitarian, anonymous feedback channels that allow you to hear as many unfiltered perspectives as possible. Healthcare plans at their best can be terminally overcomplicated, but oversimplification can lead to harmful cuts in coverage. Let your employees lead the charge on where to cut corners and how — this way, you’re maximizing usability without sacrificing efficacy.

Did you know about the small business health care tax credit, which may cover up to 50% of your employees’ premiums? Or what about the fact that you can deduct your contributions to your employees’ health savings accounts which allow them to prepare for future medical expenses? The tax rules surrounding an employer’s role in providing healthcare can seem hopelessly complex, but getting a grip on them is vital.

Knowing exactly what and how much you can deduct due to healthcare costs can help make expensive plans that much more valuable, allowing you to opt for the plans that make the most sense for your business. The more learning you do now, the less headache you’ll have to combat later on.

Every business and every team is different, but it’s still helpful to know where yours is at relative to other companies. Performance benchmarks are a way to let you know what your per-employee spending is like compared to different companies in your industry as well as other key facts. These benchmarks shouldn’t be necessarily taken as numbers to strive for but as key reference points for future adjustments.

Cigna has published a basic table showing a few key data points such as healthcare cost per worker per year, health improvement initiative engagement, and prevalence of chronic conditions, all by industry. Business leaders should use data like this to understand where potential adjustments could be made in their plan. If your per-person healthcare costs are high but chronic condition prevalence is low, that’s likely a sign that your plan could benefit from a bit of streamlining.

Large, remote insurance providers may offer competitive prices, but they just don’t know your business the way they should. Local providers might fly under your radar, but you shouldn’t let them: finding help in your area could allow you to connect with an insurance company that has a deeper relationship with your business and the communities which your employees come from.

The Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, has an online tool that makes it easy to search for agents and brokers in your immediate area. If you’re feeling lost in the search for the right health care plan, this search tool can help you find just the guide you need to move forward.

Just because your healthcare plans are difficult and unwieldy doesn’t mean they need to be. By centering the needs of your employees, you can streamline your existing healthcare systems — if that doesn’t work, you can find a plan that will.

Serenity Gibbons is a former assistant editor at The Wall Street Journal. The local unit lead for the NAACP in Northern California and a consultant helping to build

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