In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts anticipate health care costs will rise. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates the cost of treating a patient with COVID-19 to be more than $20,000, with the total climbing to $88,000 for patients who require ventilator support. In April 2020, a Health Affairs article estimated that $163.4 billion in direct medical costs could result from the pandemic.

During the outbreak and subsequent shutdowns, hospitals and patients deferred non-emergent procedures so providers could focus on COVID-19 care. This helped reduce the potential exposure to and spread of the virus; however, deferring care could also lead to complications and increased medical costs down the line. In addition, many companies have been impacted financially by the pandemic. As a result, during a time when health care costs are expected to rise, companies may have less wherewithal to endure the increased financial burden.

With the strain brought on by the pandemic, employers are in dire need of innovative, cost-savings solutions. Benefits brokers should consider reference-based pricing (RBP) plans as a way to cope with the challenges ahead.

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