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How to Avoid Healthcare Cost Pitfalls

The relationship between employers and employees can be successful – and it’s usually dependent on the employer’s ability to make good decisions.

If the employees are thriving, healthy and happy, the employer most likely has a strong and secure decision-making process that helps the employees – and the company – succeed.

Of course, the flip side – bad decisions by employees – will affect the company negatively.

Take the issue of healthcare. When employees make bad decisions about their health, it can have real financial consequences for the company. That’s why employers need to join in the healthcare conversation with their employees. That’s the way todevelop a stronger employee base and a company that is better off.

What are the bad decisions employees are most likely to make? Here are a few:

Using the emergency room for minor injuries and illnesses

Data from as recently as 2016 show that the average cost of visiting an ER was more than $2,200. That’s significant overspending, when the average visit to an urgent care center was only $176. The fact of the matter is, a lot of people visit their nearest ER without having an actual emergency. ERs are not the place to go with a case of the flu., but many people do.

Instead, employers should play a stronger role in educating employees that the ER is very expensive (and time-consuming) and the cost of an urgent care center is much less. So too, is the time spent waiting. Physicians at urgent care centers are especially equipped to deal with most problems. If the patient needs a higher level of care, they’ll be referred to a specialist or a hospital.

Once employees know that they’ll receive care faster and cheaper at an urgent care center, they may be convinced that the convenience is worth it.

Choosing out-of-network doctors

Many people make appointments with doctors who are not covered by their insurance plan. Then, when the bill arrives, they are furious that it’s so high.

Using an out-of-network doctor is expensive. Visit an out-of-network doctor, and the bill could be hundreds, even thousands of dollars more.

Instead, employers can teach their employees how easy it is to find an in-network physician, and enjoy the savings. Employers can assist employees in finding the doctor they need. Encourage them to see if the doctor is in-network before scheduling an appointment.

Overdoing imaging

MRI and CT scans are conveniently available in nearly every community. Sometimes they are the best way to diagnose a health issue. The flip side is true: sometimes the scan doesn’t solve the problem. Studies have shown that doctors will order more and more scans that aren’t necessarily meaningful.

Instead, educate employees about imaging work and how it sometimes will not find out what’s wrong. If the employee’s doctor wants to order a scan, suggest that you employee should get a second opinion. Overdoing imaging is one of the main ways healthcare can become expensive.

When employees look at how much medical care will cost them personally, they’re usually more receptive to finding affordable options. They won’t be sacrificing the level of care, just the amount it costs. When they choose an urgent care center instead of an ER, or an in-network doctor instead of an out-of-network one, they can personally save money. They more they save, the better the financial health of the company will be.

Let me help you learn more about how you can control your employee healthcare costs. Call or send an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Van Beurden Author