Buying or changing health insurance plans is a major decision. With so many products and services on the market, it can be difficult to consider what benefits and services employees want coupled with the best care options available at differing price tiers. When researching health insurance with their benefits advisors, employers should take into account these top five considerations: cost, innovation, affordability, access and contribution strategy.

Cost is important, but it does not tell the whole story. All too often, the summary analysis of a renewal policy focuses on the net cash impact before and after the proposed benefit plan design changes. There may also be a discussion of the prior period experience to identify why expectations for claims costs next year are higher and why a rate adjustment (or plan adjustment) is needed. However, only looking at the numbers ignores a tremendous amount of improvement and innovation that has emerged over the past five years that can have a major impact on the bottom line.

Beyond cost is the broader consideration of each health plan’s investment in and implementation of value-add services considered for the renewal and their respective improvement in care management capabilities at the member level. These capabilities and initiatives would be expected to help control costs by identifying and proactively managing potentially avoidable events and/or potentially avoidable health complications. Plus, the halo effect of improved (lower) absenteeism and high productivity are just as important as the cash expense.

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