Open enrollment and stethescope

As open enrollment season approaches, the media is full of stories about the increasing cost of health care premiums, but much less attention is paid to the increased shifting of other health-related costs to employees. We all want lower premiums, but employers need to look at whether the steps they take to achieve lower premiums could be increasing the overall cost of health care for valued employees.

When health care costs go up, health care usage goes down, and that can create a host of avoidable problems. When people delay annual screenings because of cost, serious conditions such as cancer may go undetected until the disease is advanced and harder to treat. If employees with chronic conditions like diabetes don’t follow their treatment regimen due to high out-of-pocket expenses, they can get sicker and even wind up in the hospital.

Employers can help avoid these unintended consequences by ensuring that the benefit plans they offer focus on keeping employees’ out-of-pocket costs low, and by ensuring that their employees understand what’s included in their plans and how they can access their benefits in the least costly way.

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