pills in bottle made of dollarsBy choosing providers who focus on value instead of cost, you canoffer better care to your employees and shield them from risks suchas opioid addiction. (Photo: Getty)

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The staggering cost of employee health insurance has reached anall-time high — an estimated $14,800 per worker next year. Risingcosts have surpassed inflation three times over, andspending on benefits continues to absorb compensation that couldotherwise go to wages.

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For many companies, the trend is ever upwards, with “get less,pay more” packages from insurers that consider “only” a five-percent increase to be a good year. Itdoesn't have to be this way. You can avoid overpaying in this areawhile still providing the highest quality care to your employees atthe lowest possible rates.

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Related: 'Skinny plan' alternatives are disrupting employerhealth care

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Here are three ways you can know if you're overpaying foryour health benefits — and if you are, how to avoid wasting anotherdime.

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1. You're sending employees to high-cost providers whoaren't providing high-quality services and treatments.

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Unfortunately, the current U.S. health care system focuses on a“fee-for-service” model that incentivizes “get in, get out”10-minute appointments and largely unnecessary or low-evidenceprocedures and treatments. When doctors recommend costly proceduresand over-prescribe addictive drugs like opioids, ithurts everyone involved. In fact, the opioid crisis is now anational epidemic, and lawsuits are now being filed all over thecountry.

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By choosing providers who focus on value instead of cost, youcan offer better care to your employees and shield them from therisk of opioid addiction. Value-based primary care models offermore time with providers, more coordinated care, short or no officewait times, same day appointments and more advanced technologysolutions.

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2. You're getting a low/no ROI on your wellness program,or employees aren't really using it.

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According to the Society of Human Resource Management's (SHRM)2017 Employee Benefits Survey, nearly one-thirdof employers expanded their benefits packages last year, whichcommonly included offering employee wellness programs. Unfortunately, manyemployers are finding these programs to be ineffective — eitherthere is little interest from employees, or, as one study found, only employees who are alreadyhealthy will be most likely to participate. The hefty price tagattached to these programs ($100-$150 per employee per year, onaverage) can contribute to higher bottom line costs quicker thanyou might think. If you're finding that there is little to no ROIon your program, consider eliminating it from your roster.

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Instead, you can create lasting change in employee health bytruly learning what their unique needs are. Surveys and focusgroups are great ways to find out what is important to your staff,and brainstorm how you can provide for the health of your employeesand their families. For example, if you have positions with a highrisk of injury, consider implementing a stretching program. In thecase of Rosen Hotels and Resorts, programs like these reduced workplace injuries by 25 percent.

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3. Your health care costs have gone up in the last fiveyears.

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If your health insurance costs have increased in the last fiveyears, it may be time to look around for a new benefits advisor.Although these individuals are trusted to manage your plans andofferings in the most effective manner, many advisors these daysdon't take the time to rethink your benefits plan that hasconsistently delivered less and less quality care for more money.Oftentimes, brokers are under strict guidelines from specificinsurance carriers, which can sometimes affect their work withclients. By taking a “check the box, see you next year” hands-offapproach, misaligned benefits advisors could be missing a chance tosave you a significant chunk of revenue.

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If this sounds like your situation, take some time to meet withyour current advisor. Ask them about their revenue streams — arethey receiving any hidden financial incentives for keeping you (andother clients) on certain plans? In our experience, not findinghidden compensation is the exception to the rule. If so, considerswitching to someone else whose interests are aligned with yourown. Once you find an advisor who will put in the time and effortto consider all options for employee health care, you could savethousands per year. We consistently see 20 percent or morereduction in spending while improving benefits. Remember that valuecounts more than fees.


Dave Chase is co-founderof HealthRosetta, which aims to accelerate the adoption of simple,practical, nonpartisan fixes to the U.S. health care system. He isalso the author of the forthcoming book, “The OpioidCrisis Wake-up Call” (Health Rosetta Media, September2018).

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