The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are unlike anything we have seen before. Businesses are closing, people are sheltering indoors, and the economy is falling. The closest our society has come to anything similar in recent history was the housing crisis a decade ago. Even then, the results were less scary. Among our own clients, a small business shuttered and another took three years to build its business back up to where it was before the recession. In the latest reports, however, one Federal Reserve executive believes we could see unemployment rates jump as high as 30% in the coming months. With so much at stake, business leaders should slash unnecessary costs wherever possible. Company health care plans are one of the best line items for leaders to start with.
Reviewing Health Care Plans During the Coronavirus
Your health benefits plan has four targets to attack: pharmaceutical costs, medical spend, customer service, and communication.
Your pharmaceutical spend is actually one of the easiest places to start in managing your overall health care expenses. In most cases, you can alter your pharmaceutical strategy without disrupting your employees. In a worst-case scenario, an employee needs to visit a new pharmacy or talk to their doctor about switching drugs. In general, however, these steps are not necessary.
Your pharmaceutical plan presents numerous opportunities to cut costs. Pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs) have many strategies for maintaining comfortable profits. Some strategies they use include:
- Retaining rebates for over-the-counter drugs
- Retaining rebates for prescription medications
- Holding prices at the same level even when they find a new way to source medication at a lower rate
The list goes on. By reviewing your contract and your PBM’s policies, you can unlock new savings for your business and employees.
Once you tackle your pharmaceutical expenses, reevaluate your medical spend. This is the perfect opportunity to revisit reference-based pricing. Reference-based pricing is a health care acquisition strategy that lowers costs and improves service by pulling large data sets covering factors such as:
- The locations of nearby and regional hospitals
- The price of services in those hospitals
- The quality of care provided by local doctors
- The performance of local and regional surgeons
- The price of medications available in nearby pharmacies
Armed with this data, you and your advisor can reevaluate your current health benefits package to find the best care at the lowest prices possible, which is especially important for hospital stays and medications during a health care crisis.
Health Care Concierge
As personal budgets shrink and sick employees rush to receive medical treatment during the pandemic, expect your staff to look for every opportunity to save money and better understand their coverage.
A health care concierge service like ours equips your employees with a team of dedicated experts who can answer questions about topics like:
- Plan details
- Billing questions
- Finding local health care professionals
- Sourcing medication
Once employees have this data, they can access better care at lower prices without ever needing to go outside of their current benefits plan. Thanks to the concierge service’s assistance in billing, employees may even avoid paying errant fees tacked on by hospitals and health care providers.
As you review your health care strategy and implement alterations, communicate with your employees and consider the best ways to announce changes to the benefits plan. Although an email may seem like the easiest way to communicate information, few employees enjoy reading long, complex emails on topics as complicated as health care.
Instead, consider some of your alternatives. Text messaging and automated voice messages push you to condense the news as simply and straightforward as possible so that employees can digest the information quickly. If there is too much information to communicate in a brief message, direct employees to a web page with the details they need.
Be proactive now to insulate yourself and your company from the impending economic crash. By streamlining your health care plan, you can protect your company from unnecessary costs now and in the future.