Employee Benefits

Tips to Take Control of Your Benefits Plan Spend and Outcomes

By Jaime Laprise on December, 8 2021
4 minute read

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With the holiday season fast approaching, we’ve reached that time of year where we begin making plans for next year with the clear intention of making changes for the better.

From a benefits perspective, it’s clear that businesses have a couple clear goals in mind: rethinking how they can put together an appealing benefits program that will attract and retain employees in a turbulent labour market; and, doing so in a way that will allow them to better control escalating benefit costs.

In this blog, we’ll walk through a few ways you can go about taking a proactive approach towards controlling the health and financial outcomes of your plan.

 

Take a Data Driven Approach to Plan Decisions

Your organization’s rising benefit spend needs to be evaluated with a complete understanding of how your employees’ health influences their use of the plan. 

A recent survey conducted by Gallagher states that “nearly 1 in 3 employers lack the data-driven insights necessary to identify optimal benefit changes.” The healthcare needs of your employees are unique, so your plan’s claims data will be too. Rather than making assumptions about what you think impactful change looks like, tap into the resources available through your plan, and draw upon the insights and observations of your benefits advisor to make informed decisions. 

With a complete understanding of your employees needs, you’ll be better equipped to make decisions about how you can reallocate benefit spend from under-utilized parts of your plan to areas that are in high-demand. This optimization of your plan will fuel employee satisfaction and give you peace of mind knowing that your organization’s contributions to the plan have a purpose.

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Benefits That Can Reduce Costs in Other Areas of Your Plan

The addition of certain benefits to your plan can eventually translate into meaningful bottom line savings. When you provide employees with access to the resources available through an EAP, or virtual healthcare, it often results in a reduction in utilization in other areas of the plan—not to mention more productive and engaged employees.

Here are a few ways employers can affect the expenses incurred by their plan and boost productivity:

  • Employee and family assistance programs: EFAPS are widely accepted as a low-cost benefit with a high potential return on investment. People are taking a more holistic approach to their health nowadays—especially when it comes to their mental wellbeing. EFAPs provide frontline preventive health and wellness resources, and access to the professionals they need to better adapt to life’s challenges. Happier employees are healthier employees, meaning you can expect a measurable impact to healthcare costs, absenteeism, and productivity.
  • Virtual healthcare: The way we interact with our benefits is changing, the same holds true when it comes to our healthcare. Providing better access to healthcare services allows employees to deal with concerns before they have an opportunity to spiral out of control and place a potential burden on your plan and their ability to do their job.
  • Pharmacogenetic testing: If you take our first suggestion of using data to make decisions to heart, you’ll be aware of the chronic conditions present in your workforce and the utilization of drugs used to treat them. If drug costs are a concern for your plan, may we suggest learning more about pharmacogenetic tests as a way to help employees eliminate the trial and error involved in their treatment. It comes with an upfront cost, but will help them narrow-in on the appropriate medication for their condition. This saves time and eliminates the cost of inappropriate treatment(s).   

Have a Communication Plan That Educates Stakeholders

If you have a clear idea of what you want your plan to accomplish, then it’s important for that messaging to be communicated to all stakeholders - especially your employees. Regardless of the nature of the changes you're making, it’s important that everyone is provided an opportunity to understand their intentions and discuss their effects. 

Your employees’ health and how they use your plan is what drives your organization's benefits. They should be invested in the performance of your plan and it’s long-term sustainability. This is especially true if they share in contributions.

If you choose to roll-out (or already offer) any of the options detailed above, give careful thought to how you can effectively communicate the reason they’re available and how they positively affect your team’s health. Without facilitating a proper dialogue changes can be misconstrued as being negative. A great example of this is the introduction of digital pharmacies that provide the convenience of allowing employees to fill their prescriptions online and meds delivered. People are reluctant to change their habits just for the sake of it when there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the status quo. However, they’d probably rethink their stance if they were aware that their actions could reduce costs incurred by their plan and allow their employer to provide quality benefits.

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Next Steps

Reducing benefit costs isn’t taboo and doesn’t need to be perceived as downgrading your plan. In many cases, it just means being smarter about how you invest where premiums are allocated and having access to the tools and resources to better understand the implications of plan design decisions.

The amount of information that’s out there can be overwhelming, but a benefits professional knows what to look for, what questions to ask, and will have experience in helping employers optimize their plan to arrive at whatever desired outcome they have in mind.

Revisiting Employee Benefits in Light of COVID-19

Learn about changes in the employee benefits world and what these changes mean going forward for your organisation and how to best manage your benefits plan right now.

 

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