Open Enrollment for 2017 employer-sponsored health plans and Marketplace health plans begins this fall and runs through the end of January 2017. For many Houston-area employees, it also means that employers can sign up for an affordable, high-quality employer-sponsored health plan such as KelseyCare, or individual healthcare coverage through the federal exchange or through a state website should it be available. Under the healthcare law, your employees can buy health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace for Individuals and Families instead of accepting the insurance you offer.
Businesses will spend six percent more on healthcare benefits in 2017 than they did this year, according to an annual survey by the National Business Group on Health. To the casual observer, this might appear to be good news, since the upcoming price hike is no greater than last year's. However, despite this relatively steady growth rate, healthcare costs continue to climb faster than wages on average, suggesting consumers will be forced to put even more of their paychecks toward medicine.
"While employers have been able to keep increases in checkfor the past few years, costs are still running at more than twice the rate of inflation and general wage increases, thereby threatening affordability," said Brian Marcotte, president and CEO of NBGH in a press release. "These cost increases, while stable, are both unsustainable and unacceptable."
Nearly one-third of the 133 surveyed employers indicated that specialty pharmacy costs were the number one driver behind this spike in spending - up from just 6 percent in 2014. Rounding out the list of the three biggest culprits were high cost claimants and specific diseases and conditions.
One of the most efficient ways to cut healthcare costs without sacrificing quality is to choose generic prescription drugs over theirbrand-name counterparts. In fact, the former can be as much as 80 percent cheaper than the latter, according to the Generic Pharmaceutical Association. This ultimately adds up to lower bills and long-term costs for both patients and their employers. Generic drugs saved more than $1.46 billion over the previous decade, according to a leading healthcare analytics firm.
Here are more facts:
Despite their short-lived surge in popularity, wellness programs were never quite able to live up to their potential. Study after study have shown that employees simply don't enjoy participating in their company's incentive programs as much as their HR departments had hoped. While the reasons for this apathetic attitude vary from person to person, new research suggests a major gap between the incentives these programs offer and those their members actually want.
Since the 2008 recession saw healthcare premiums skyrocket, the rate of cost increase has slowed significantly. However, according to a new study from Xerox, today's healthcare costs are still climbing at a rate that far outpaces that of inflation, suggesting we still have a long way to go to bring down coverage expenses.
For payers, a relatively minute percent of patients often account for a vast majority of healthcare expenses. Faced with such an imbalance, managing the expenses of these populations can go a long way toward reducing your overall spending. While this process can no doubt be a challenge, there are several strategies that might help you better engage with your high-cost patients as you strive to reduce their cost of care while simultaneously improving its quality.
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The Kelsey-Seybold DifferenceLower Costs on Group Health Insurance, Big Benefits for Small Business
At Kelsey-Seybold, we understand different businesses have different needs. We deliver long-term health benefits solutions for Houston employers through several leading partners. Our health plans offer as its core provider network and accountable care partner – the nation’s first NCQA-accredited Accountable Care Organization, Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.