As a means to attract and retain top talent, many employers try to provide a competitive healthcare benefits package for employees and their families. Unfortunately, the ability to provide sustainable plans is threatened due to the high cost of healthcare for most employers.
According to the National Coalition on Healthcare, in 2013, the total national health expenditure rose 3.6 percent. The share of the economy devoted to health spending and the GDP increased at similar rates for 2010 – 2013.
Employees feel the effects as do their families. In recent years, insurance premiums have not increased at the same rate as they did from 1999 – 2004, but the increase is still over twice that of the increase in wages which is barely keeping pace with inflation.
One choice employers have to manage the burden of healthcare costs is to shift more responsibility to employees. By educating employees on how to become active healthcare consumers, companies reduce their own costs and risks. It is increasingly common for employers to provide Consumer Driven Healthcare Plans (CDHPs), defined as a system where consumers — not the company or insurance provider — determine how and where to spend their healthcare allotments.
If your organization is making changes to your healthcare benefits offerings or struggling to gain acceptance of the changes you have made, managing your change to the following four conditions with discipline and persistence will be key to your success:
- Understand the Business Case – Be committed to helping all plan participants understand the reasons for change.
- Understand the Plan Options – Ensure that all participants have the knowledge to make the right decision for themselves and their families.
- Be a Well-Informed Healthcare Consumer – Commit to a robust learning system offering multiple methods of training and education. To motivate the participants to gain new skills and competencies, you may also need to provide a reward system and incentives to reinforce new behaviors.
- Create a Solid Infrastructure for Change – Since each new open enrollment period provides you with the opportunity to change healthcare plans, a sustainable and repeatable approach to implementation will be most efficient and effective.
As more employers are faced with the burden of rising healthcare costs, successful implementation of new benefits strategies will depend on the level of acceptance within the organization. Employers need to develop a realistic sense of what they can achieve. If building active consumers is the expectation, then employers must fully understand the impact this expectation has on their people, skills and competencies, technology and processes, and culture.
Use the link below to access our whitepaper on managing changes to healthcare benefit plans. The free download includes the story of how a LaMarsh Global client made real changes to its plan through a multi-year commitment toward building active consumerism among employees and retirees.