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  • Sarah Devine

Healthcare bills out of control? 3 ideas to consider now

The uncertainty surrounding the future of healthcare in the United States has put many Americans on edge. The proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with the Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act (or Better Care Reconciliation Act) is making people feel unsure, and possibly leaving many Americans uninsured.

While questions remain about the future of healthcare in America, we do know the consequences — both good and bad — of the ACA: more people are covered by health insurance than ever before, but many employers and employees pay a higher cost for care.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average employer-sponsored family healthcare plan cost $12,680 in 2008, with employees paying about $3,355. In 2016, the cost for the same plan increased to over $18,000, with employees paying about $5,275.

Whether costs go up or down for employers and their employees under new healthcare legislation remains to be seen, but there are steps employers can take now to reduce their healthcare spend.

1. Add telemedicine to your insurance plan

Telemedicine saves time and money and helps prevent illness by connecting patients with doctors via video conferencing. Implementing telemedicine can cut down on unnecessary trips to a doctor’s office, which prevents employees from having to take time off work.

Telemedicine is particularly helpful for employers who have employees in rural areas and who have long-term medical needs for chronic illnesses like diabetes or COPD.  With telemedicine, doctors can monitor these patients remotely via telemedicine instead of requiring long trips to and from the nearest hospital.

In addition, telemedicine costs are less expensive. Virtual doctor’s appointments average around $45 per visit versus Urgent Care costs that start at $150 and emergency room visits that start at $250.

More than 70% of patients say they would use a telemedicine service if available. Ask your insurance provider if a telemedicine service like Doctor on Demand can be added to your insurance plan.

2. Look for a plan with guided healthcare and navigation

People are starting to consider themselves consumers of healthcare products, which means they require a higher level of service and more communication along their healthcare journey.

Insurance plans that incorporate a guided healthcare and navigation model guide plan participants through the healthcare process, reducing healthcare spend along the way.

Guided Healthcare professionals keep stakeholders informed and ensure the delivery of the best possible care for a patient. They act as a trusted and knowledgeable resource to help participants get the most out of their healthcare services. Implementing guided healthcare professionals reduces healthcare spending by making the care delivery process more efficient and actively helping members become healthier over time.

3. Consider self-funding

The increasing uncertainty surrounding the future of healthcare means many small to medium-sized businesses are considering self-funding. The number of businesses offering self-insured plans increased by 19% for midsized companies and 7% for small companies from 2013 to 2015, according to the Employee Benefits Research Institute.

Adopting the self-funded insurance model helps employers lower costs and offers more control than the traditional insurance model. It puts control back in the hands of business owners so they are able to make decisions on how to spend cash set aside for healthcare rather than relinquishing power to an insurance company. By paying for claims as they come in and not having to prepay for coverage, self-funded companies gain more control of their cash flow.

Additionally, self-funding uses third-party administrators to pay claims and manage eligibility. These service teams handle day-to-day issues, which allows HR to concentrate on core responsibilities.

Novo Connection understands the uncertainty of today’s healthcare landscape and the need to reduce healthcare spend. Our extraordinary healthcare program combines the best solutions in the industry with cutting-edge technology to reduce wasteful spending and drastically bend the trend of rising healthcare costs.

Novo Connection works through thebroker community.  We partner with healthcare brokers and act as an extension of their team. Contact us to help your clients proactively manage their health plans and reduce wasteful spending.

Posted by: Melissa Saturnino

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