Reducing Healthcare Costs - CiteHR
Business Consultancy
Hr Consultant
Rajnish Borah
Hr Leader - Syntel Inc
Benefits Coordination

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I’m curious: Has anyone implemented ANY wellness or other program to address (reduce) rising healthcare costs?
Dear friend,
In material terms my answer to your query is emphatic "yes". to be safe, in preceding 5 years my medical expences are NIL. My morning exercise (physical and mental) group which I have started about 6 months back is gradually realising how it is possible.
If you or anybody is having any free association then every one is welcome to ventilate.

SHRM had done a research on rising healthcare cost and strategies companies are implementing to curb it. Many organisations have taken into welness programs as approach to manage cost escalation.
Even Insurance providers are nowadays stressing on welness, Kaiser was recently featured in NBC nightly news for their wellness initiatives and how they controlled cost with that initiative.

Dear Rajnish,
I think my post above is somewhat misplaced. i realised it later.
Your post gives opening information. Will you please elaborate on the following points?
1.Names of the companies,
2.Detail programmes,
3. Since when the programmes are going on and
4. Cost effectiveness if determined.

While wellness and preventative programs (blood pressure testing, diabetis screening, smoking cessation, etc.) are to be applauded, healthcare cost containment rests with the employee and dependents.

Currently, in the US, healthcare providers are looking at High Deductible Healthcare Plans (HDHP). The plans require a high deductible ($1000/indiv.; $2000/family) with even higher "out of pocket" requirements ($5000/indiv; $10000/family). As a result of the higher "pass through" costs to the consumer (employee), the company will realize a significant reduction in premiums, some of which can be rebated to the employee MSA. For their part, consumers (employees) can establish Medical Savings Accounts (MSA) contributing $2250/indiv.; $4500/family (additional contributions can be made by employees 55 and older). Contributions to MSA are tax deductible on the Federal tax return.

Additional benefits of the MSA include:

Portability: Take it along as one moves from job to job.

Vesting: 100% to consumer (employee). Different from old "cafeteria" plans where employee had to use the funds deposited of forfeit them.

Growth: Annual contributions plus interest/dividends.

Flexibility: MSA dollars can be used to pay for a variety of "medically related" expenses. Penalties are assessed if money is used for other than "medically related" expenses.

These plans place responsibility on the consumer (employee & dependents) to use the plan prudently, as well as to encourage exploration and utilization of relevant preventative programs.

"These plans place responsibility on the consumer (employee & dependents) to use the plan prudently, as well as to encourage exploration and utilization of relevant preventative programs"
Dear Paladin,
From the above it appears that the company does not provide relevant preventive programmes. I n that case it may be difficult to strike a balance between life and livelihood.
Are there companies who provide relevant preventive programmes as Rajnish says? Do the companies allot time for such health practices?

Dear Jogeshwar,
Take a look at:
There are a wealth of various programs an employer can put into place to control rising healthcare costs. The secret is PREVENTION. Keeping employees away from the medical grid in the first place is the only way to really stop the upward spiral. In order to be truly effective, a program needs to be tied into the benefit structure of the company. In other words: there needs to be an incentive/disincentive offered to participants.
Chronic risk issues that are not under control are very expensive. A good wellness program will address the medical care aspects of this in a variety of ways, usually by contracting with a primary care provider at hourly rates instead of Fee For Service and implementing a strictly monitored care plan and it's compliance.

I will look over the report I have at home to see if can pass on names & details of companies who have adopted a wellness programme.
There has been a major inflation on Insurance cost post 2001 and companies are looking at creative ways to curtail that cost. Many companies have stopped subsidizing insurance premiums, some do a split, however with a talent shortage projected for the next couple years companies are looking at creative ways to manage insurance programme to provide maximum benefit to employees. Wellness initiative is a part of the efforts, most provider websites now have links to common problems such as Blood pressure, diabeties and stress on the importance of a annual check up. They also post health related information mailed periodically asserting on the fact on preventative care.

Raul and Ranjnish:

You both make excellent points.

Raul, I see some problems with an hourly based contract for a health care provider, especially if you are referring to a medical doctor.

* Are you willing to guarantee a number of hours?

* Where will the employee be seen? Who pays cost of travel?

* What will you pay for fractional segments (less than an hour)?

* Will you be willing to pick up the administrative costs, i.e. recordkeeping and billing?

I think there are other ways to implement wellness programs that are almost cost free. For example, the Blood Bank will do blood pressure screening for employees and dependants when they donate blood. (The Bank will be glad to send a van to your location). The Diabetes Association will do screenings.

Contact local healthcare agencies for guidance, support and contacts. If you have a Plant Nurse (s)he should have some ideas.

In addition to providing preventative programs (forgot to mention annual checkups, thanks Rajnish), also consider subsidies for health club membership, or set up small "workout room" in the facility which should be accessible to employees and dependants. {Check with legal to assure that the company is not exposed to any liability in the event an employee/dependant is hurt in the "workout room". Membership based on dues of $1.00/year for each participating member may be the best route.}

Further, you could send press releases to local news media to publicize the Company's efforts to hold down healthcare costs, thereby demonstrating that the company is considerate, compassionate, and responsive to employee needs, as well as being a responsible member of the community.

Dear Raul, One bird does not make a spring. I think this was in your mind when you initiated this thread. Dear Rajnish, Bill and Raul, I think the discussion is becoming lively. Regards, Jogeshwar

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