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Healthcare costs level in 2017: How companies can match this stride

Published on July 7th, 2017 by Triton Benefits & HR Solutions

Under the current healthcare law – the Affordable Care Act – employers with 50 or more full-time equivalent workers must provide insurance that meets certain federal standards. While this regulation is mandatory, companies do have the ability to choose a plan that keeps costs low for both the organization itself as well as its employees.

Insurers also take on a portion of the financial burden of healthcare coverage. According to Willis Towers Watson's 2017 Global Medical Trends Survey Report, this percentage is projected to level off in 2017 at around 7.5 percent. In an effort to maintain cost-efficient healthcare at their own company, benefits leaders can take the following steps:

Switch to high-deductible health plans
As of September 2016, 29 percent of covered workers were enrolled in a high-deductible plan with a savings option, according to research completed by the Kaiser Family Foundation. This option offers employees lower premiums, but increased deductibles, helping businesses reduce their financial input for worker coverage. The IRS recently released the minimum deductible and maximum out-of-pocket amounts for HDHPs. They are as follows, in comparison to 2017:

2018 2017 Change
HDHP minimum deductibles Self-only: $1,350
Family: $2,700
Self-only: $1,300
Family: $2,600
Self-only: Increased by $50
Family: Increased by $100
HDHP maximum out-of-pocket amounts Self-only: $6,650
Family: $13,300
Self-only: $6,550
Family: $13,100
Self-only: Increased by $100
Family: Increased by $200

Complete dependent eligibility audits
It's common for organizations to offer coverage to employee dependents – namely children under the age of 26 and spouses. Yet, there are instances when workers attempt to sneak others onto their insurance. According to the Government Finance Officers Association, roughly 8 percent of dependents enrolled in healthcare are ineligible for coverage. These cases cause companies to spend more on insurance than they need to. Completing regular dependent eligibility audits is a smart way for businesses to learn which errors are increasing their expenses and nip such situations in the bud as quickly as possible, according to Forbes.

Implement a wellness program
It's no surprise that employee happiness is linked to improvements in their health. As a result, companies that introduce a wellness plan may also see a reduction in worker hospital visits, insurance claims and healthcare costs, in general. Every organization's program is different, but research from Rand shows that a focus on disease management can have the strongest results in terms of cutting costs. According to the study, this concentration delivered 86 percent of healthcare expense savings and generated $136 in savings per employee.

All of these actions can help companies and their benefits team reduce their healthcare costs, while still providing affordable and compliant coverage under the current ACA regulations. Furthermore, workers who feel valued and supported by their employer can improve organizational retention and recruitment rates. Triton Benefits and HR Solutions recognizes each company and its employees are unique based on corporate culture and budget. We review every company's healthcare needs and customize a plan specifically for them. 

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