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2016 Medical Plan Trends for Employers

2016 medical plan trendsFrom small businesses to global enterprises, rising healthcare costs is one topic that is sure to send HR departments into a tizzy. As organizations continue to battle ever-increasing costs, many are seeking new and creative ways to better manage the financial impact of medical plans on their company and their employees.

DirectPath, a provider of strategic employee engagement and healthcare compliance for Fortune 1000 companies, issued their annual report which highlights some of the top trends in employers’ healthcare strategies for 2016. Findings are based on analysis of over 750 health plans in their benchmarking database. You can download the full report here.

Here’s a snapshot of a few 2016 medical plan trends:

Telemedicine on the Rise
To help contain healthcare costs, the American Telemedicine Association (AMA) estimates that over 1 million online patient consultations will occur this year. And according to DirectPath’s report, about two-thirds of companies are planning to offer some type of telemedicine service by 2018.

For those not familiar with the term, AMA defines telemedicine as the exchange of medical information from one site to another using various electronic communications which could include two-way video, email, smartphone or other types of technology.

Wellness Programs
The implementation of wellness programs is another way that companies are trying to control healthcare costs. Close to half of employers offer them, and their size and scope vary. Some companies even reduce healthcare premiums by as much as 10% for employees who participate in their wellness program.

Three out of ten employers are implementing surcharges as another way to cut costs. At some companies, employees who smoke are subject to a tobacco surcharge. DirectPath says 21% of employers have imposed the surcharge, but it’s not as common as adding fees for spousal coverage – 41% of employers have introduced or are planning to introduce spousal surcharges in an effort to control healthcare costs.

Copay Changes
Another cost-cutting measure that employers are taking include shifting the cost of copays for certain services. For example, in order to avoid bigger medical fees for bigger medical services (like surgeries and hospital visits), employers are making in-network copays more affordable for lesser like outpatient surgery, and making copays costlier for things like inpatient surgery and ER visits. The reason for doing this is so employees are more likely to get a medical issue checked out before it becomes a big problem.

What kind of cost-saving steps has your organization taken to help control rising healthcare costs? Share them below.