HR’s Views On Benefit Priorities And Cost-Cutting Solutions



Many HR leaders like you are grappling with a troublesome contradiction this year: You need to better manage health benefits costs, but you believe you’ve done all you can do to achieve it.

These are among the issues we heard about and are reflected in our most recent Employee Benefits Barometer 2018 study. Findings suggest that HR leaders need more information about the full scope of benefits options that will help manage costs more effectively, meet the needs of an increasingly diverse worker base and, importantly, position HR as a strategic partner to executive leadership. 

Over 300 employee benefits professionals from organizations employing 50 to 1,000 told us that two-thirds have made managing benefit costs a priority again in 2018. Yet half have no plans to start new programs in the next year to 18 months. In fact, 66 percent spend less than a year developing their annual health plan changes to begin with.

So it’s no surprise that you’re challenged to plan cost-cutting strategies that deliver long-term impact when 54 percent of you believe not much more can be done.

In our 2017 study, however, three types of benefits cost cutting strategies were ranked as among the most effective: high deductible health plans, multiple plan options and telemedicine. All fit with ongoing trends – telehealth alone is now offered by about 80 percent of all employers, a great alternative to traditional care options that drive your premiums up.

Lesser-known options, though, can return meaningful savings – and help you win at benefits cost management:  

  • Start with pharma, one of every employer’s top three health plan costs. Contracting these benefits to a Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) firm reduces costs and improves transparency and oversight. From there, you audit your contract for terms, pricing guarantees and assurance that expensive specialty drugs are being properly priced.
  • Also consider the delivery structure’s shift from fee-for-service care to high performance networks that focus on value-based care and quality outcomes that are cost effective for everyone. Investigate these for availability and fit with your organization.

The dynamic environment for health benefits makes your quest to wring costs from it a long-term proposition. And new opportunities are always around the corner.


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