Tips to Keep Health Care Costs Down

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Employers work with group insurance advisors such as Midlands Financial Benefits in Lincoln, Nebraska, to create employee benefits plans and teach consumer skills.

Health care reform confused the healthcare landscape. Who will be responsible for paying what? Who receives health care and who doesn’t? What’s covered through employee benefits and what’s not? When will all of this go into effect?

There are more questions than answers about health care and employee benefits in this new healthcare environment, and consumers are afraid they’ll get caught in the confusion without a way to care for themselves and their families. You can’t blame them. As the saying goes, “If you have good health, you have everything.”

Employers, on the other hand, are stuck in the middle. They want to provide the greatest employee benefits possible, because they really care about their employees. And they know employees who worry about benefits are likely to be less productive—and less loyal. However, as they work with group insurance advisors to design group healthcare plans, many employers are finding they can’t provide the employee benefits they would like due to astronomical costs.

Employers Help Employees Keep Healthcare Costs Down
When an employer needs to contain health care costs, they can provide education employees relatively inexpensive ways to help them keep their own healthcare costs down and minimize the effects of reduced benefits.

Employees can…

1. Be realistic and accountable. Rather than sitting back and allowing others to make all the health care coverage decisions affecting them, employees can make a personal commitment to inquire about their own healthcare and employee benefits. Then, they can look for realistic ways to meet needs in other ways, too. Employers can encourage employees to get in the habit of being responsible and honest when it comes to claims to keep overall costs as small as possible.

2. Use health care in moderation. To keep family and personal healthcare costs down, employees can go to the doctor only when they really need to. In addition to reducing personal health care costs, this could reduce costs throughout the actuarial pool, which could result in lower premiums. Patients also can ask doctors if x-rays, exams, tests and other healthcare items are truly necessary. If they aren’t, in many cases it might be okay to decline them.

3. Use generic medications. Consumers have a choice whether to use branded medications or generic medications. After checking with a doctor to confirm whether generics are safe for treatment in any given case, choosing generic drugs will help offset bigger deductibles and co-pays.

4. Live a healthy lifestyle. More than 50% of health insurance claims are a result of lifestyle excesses: smoking, eating, and drinking, among other health-threatening behaviors. If employees reduce these excessive behaviors, as well as working on overall good health and wellness in other ways, it will lead to lowered health care costs and reduced health insurance costs. Employers can help by educating on wellness.

Everyone knows that employee benefits don’t cover as much as they used to. However, with a little witty, new thinking, employers and employees can work with their group insurance advisor to come up with new ways to better employee benefits.

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