Managing Rising Healthcare Expenses for Self-Funded Employers

Two employees review healthcare options while sitting in an office. From groceries to gasoline, US families are experiencing the impact of rising costs. In addition to this, healthcare costs continue to increase and employees and employers are feeling the strain.

It’s critical to provide robust and affordable health plans to employees to support retention and hiring, but organizations have to balance these benefits with rising healthcare costs. Let’s explore how self-funded employers can manage increasing costs while still providing meaningful benefits to their employees.

How Self-Funded Employers Can Manage Rising Healthcare Costs

High healthcare costs can be felt across all organizations. According to a 2023 study, there was a 5.2 percent per employee increase for employers with 50 or more employees, a 7.8 percent increase for employers with 50-499 employees, and a 4.6 percent increase for employers with 500 plus employees. 

Additionally, there was an 8.4 percent increase in pharmacy benefit costs per employee, and rising costs show no signs of slowing down. It’s projected that 2024 holds a 5 percent inflation-driven health plan cost increase. Self-funded employers are responsible for providing tools that manage healthcare costs for their employees and their company as a whole. Let’s take a closer look at how you can do that.

Use Healthcare Navigation Tools

Healthcare navigation tools are essential for helping self-funded employers and their employees save money on healthcare costs, including prescriptions. These tools help members find affordable, high-quality care, thus reducing their costs and the costs their employer absorbs. 

Additionally, it’s easier for employees to find high-value care that aligns with their health needs and cost requirements when they have easy-to-use tools. Many people may not realize that cost and quality can vary greatly between providers and facilities. Even the same procedure performed within the same location can vary up to 1,000 percent. 

With tools such as Bluebook CareConnect™, your employees have access to personalized guidance from a member concierge who helps them find a high-value provider and works with them to schedule care and transfer medical records. The member concierge then continues to support your employees throughout their entire care journey. 

Along with the member concierge, CareConnect includes the Bundles program, which partners with high-value providers to establish one bundled payment for surgical services, which results in significant savings.

Learn how to choose a healthcare navigation tool that’s right for your company. 

Encourage Employees to Shop for Healthcare

Shopping around for healthcare can improve outcomes while reducing costs, but many employees may not realize they can shop for their healthcare or may not know where to look for accurate information. 

One of the strategies to encourage employees to shop around for healthcare is to provide price transparency tools, which are designed to help members find care from a high-quality provider that aligns with their cost requirements. 

For example, Healthcare Bluebook’s cost and quality solution makes it easy for members to find high-value care with a simple green-yellow-red format. Green indicates that a provider is in the top third of quality ratings, yellow indicates the middle third, and red indicates the bottom third.

It can also be helpful to educate employees and encourage them to seek in-network providers. It may be beneficial to provide educational materials about in-network versus out-of-network providers, including how to determine if a provider is in-network and how providers may still be out of network even though they accept insurance.

Empower Employees to Make Informed Decisions

Deciding on a health plan can be confusing, leading employees to choose the same health coverage they’ve had in prior years without evaluating updated options. There are several different reasons for this habit. For one, it can simply be easier to stick with what’s known, even if it may not be the best option for their needs. Additionally, it can take a lot of time to compare plans and decide which plan is the best financial choice. 

All these factors can result in your employees choosing a health plan that may be more expensive for them and your organization. Providing a suite of healthcare tools can help combat this practice. These solutions make it easy for employees to find and schedule care and also can help them get more engaged with their care and confident about their choices.

Boosting employee engagement in healthcare can also help reduce hospital readmissions because employees may be more likely to address healthcare concerns and schedule care with a high-value provider. 

Incentives can help empower employees and boost their engagement by rewarding them for choosing a high-value provider. The incentives are also meaningful, such as health savings account (HSA) contributions or wellness points, so employees are even more motivated to make healthier decisions.

Ready to Invest in Healthcare Navigation Solutions?

Healthcare navigation tools are essential for self-funded employers to rein in costs and provide meaningful solutions to employees, but choosing the right tools for your organization can be challenging. Discover how to find the right tools for your company with our free guide, How to Choose a Healthcare Navigation Solution That’s Right for Your Organization: Four Questions to Ask.

eBook cover of How to Choose a Healthcare Navigation Solution That's Right for Your Organization