No surprise here: Health-care costs are expected to rise again in ’09. Fortunately there are some proven ways to keep costs from rising too high.
According to a Mercer survey, health-insurance costs for all employers will rise around 5.7% in 2009.
The good news: That’s the smallest spike in the past decade. The bad news: Charging employees more during troubled economic times could lead to resentment and even resignations.
Here are a few alternatives to shouldering workers with the higher costs:
Reward healthy workers. Hold screenings and assign points for how well your workers score in categories like body-mass index and blood pressure and reward the top scores. If you’re a small company, insurers like Principal Financial Group Inc. can do the screenings for you. And some of these non-traditional insurers can cost as much as 5% less than the traditional ones.
Debit cards for flexible spending. A great idea for small companies because they cut out the time-consuming paperwork of regular FSAs. Your workers can use the debit cards to cover co-pays or OTC meds not covered in your plan with pretax money that workers set aside.
Medical hotlines. Many of the trips employees take to the emergency room are unnecessary — and those costs quickly add up. Companies have found success and savings by asking workers with minor injuries to call nurse hotlines set up by their company. For example, OptumHealth includes a program, NurseLine, where workers can contact a registered nurse with a any medical concerns 24 hours a day through a toll-free number.