Employers: You Should Worry about Employees’ Health. Here’s Why.

The future of the ACA is...questionable right now. No one knows what’s going to happen, least of all employers who cover their employees under ACA plans. Though the ACA is a relatively recent addition to the healthcare landscape, many employers find these plans burdensome, since benefits are 30% of an employer’s full compensation package and premiums have risen every year for a decade. 

It might be easy for these businesses to welcome Obamacare changes as an opportunity to cut costs with a less expensive plan (or perhaps no plan at all). And at first glance that would seem logical. But remember: there are good reasons to make sure your employees stay in good health. Research shows a link between the health of your employees and the health of your business.

The True Cost of Poor Health

If you’re thinking of nixing your group health plan, remember this: sick employees can cost their employers a lot in lost work hours, to the tune of $153 billion nationally, according to Gallup.

And if you’re thinking of changing to a plan that helps your bottom line (the company’s income after all expenses have been deducted from revenues) but puts a higher burden on your employees, think twice before you make the move. You may be able to maximize the impact of your current benefit offering plan with new and innovative ways to keep your employees healthy.

How? Big data. The information age is giving employers better insight than ever before into what is driving their health costs — and what to do about it.

Here’s how it works. Most employer health costs are paid out to “high-cost claimants” — the sickest employees and those with chronic conditions. These very few people have a disproportionately high impact on your bottom line. In an American Health Policy Institute survey of 26 large companies:

  • Only 1.2 percent of members were high-cost claimants; 
  • But they comprised more than 30% of total spending!

Do you pay or match contributions toward employee premiums? These workers have higher ones. Do you help cover prescription drugs? These employees take more of them. In other words, you’ll pay out a lot less in healthcare costs if you work to make sure they stay well.

Population Health Management: Big Data is a Big Help

That’s where the emerging field of population health management comes in. For the last fifteen years or so, employers of all kinds have been partnering with vendors, insurance companies, and other healthcare organizations to comb through claims data (it’s easy with today’s software!), identify the health issues affecting high-cost populations with, and brainstorm how to help them get – and stay - healthy

Here’s a successful example: in 1996, the city of Asheville, NC undertook a population health management experiment with city employees. They discovered that people with diabetes were costing them a lot of their benefits expenditures, so they partnered with pharmacists to give diabetic patients relief on their copays and free education about their condition.

It worked. Like crazy. In just five years the city reduced its per-employee benefit spending by up to $1,900. Better yet, the sickest diabetic patients got way, way better. The experiment was a win/win for everyone.

So, however, the ACA plays out, continue to consider this: their health may just equal your wealth.

Know what else is a win/win for everyone? Lower healthcare costs. Fight your high premiums by fighting state mandates with us today.

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