Six Best Ways To Lower Your Company's Health Insurance Premiums There's an art to lowering company health insurance premiums while still providing a valuable and meaningful package for employees.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Cutting costs. It's a priority for most employers, and understandably so. However, there's an art to lowering company health insurance premiums while still providing a valuable and meaningful package for employees.
So how often do you encourage your staff to be proactive about their health? How influential are you in their overall approach to wellness?
If the answer to both of those questions is "not very', it's time to make a change.
1. Motivate employees to exercise and eat well.
An unhealthy workforce will use its insurance more frequently than a healthy one, raising the overall employee premiums your company pays out each year. Healthy employees attract lower health insurance premiums compared to unhealthy ones, simply because the latter are more likely to use health services. So if your employee insurance bills are spiralling out of hand, take back control by looking at ways to make your workforce healthier.
How to build a healthier workforce:
Your employees spend the majority of their waking life at work, so encouraging them to adopt healthy habits in the workplace can transform their overall health. Effective strategies include offering a wide variety of healthy and affordable foods on site. Removing unhealthy vending machines from the office floor can also work wonders.
But don't just focus on food- get your staff moving as well. You can achieve this by hosting incentivised team fitness challenges and setting your office up in a way that encourages incidental exercise.
2. Encourage employees to get a second opinion
Taking the first test or treatment recommended by a doctor prevents employees from considering other options. This could push up their bills and cost you dearly in premiums. While there's a general medical consensus on how to investigate and treat different conditions, doctors tend to offer the approach they prefer. This can differ noticeably from one physician to the next… and all tests and treatments are not the same price. Employees who take the first option they are given could unwittingly cost you more money for the same outcome.
Save money with second opinions:
Encourage your employees to make a test or treatment decision after researching all available options. This is even more important when they are considering expensive services. Diagnostic scans, surgery and long-term medication all carry high price tags.
Be sure to emphasise the importance of getting a second opinion by using workplace signage, holding workshops and distributing education materials.
3. Advise employees to question their doctors about prescriptions
Ineffective and unused prescriptions unnecessarily raise employee insurance claims and subsequent premiums. Over-prescribing has long been under scrutiny in the UAE; however, things are now changing with new rules to encourage the prescription of cheaper generic medication. Sadly, this alone won't reduce your costs.
But, there is something your employees can do to noticeably drive down the amount of prescriptions they collect: question their doctors more often.
How to cut prescription costs:
Start by educating your staff about the costs of prescription drugs. If they appreciate how much these items cost, they are more likely to be mindful of wasteful habits. Advise them to tell their doctors about the prescriptions they collect and don't take, as well as medications that aren't doing much to help their symptoms.
Eliminating wasteful practices like these could cut each employee's annual insurance claims by thousands of dirhams- savings that will be reflected in their premiums.
4. Ask staff to schedule a single doctor visit for multiple check-ups
With every doctor's visit attracting a separate bill, employees who make separate appointments for separate complaints can quickly drive up their premiums and your company's annual insurance costs. Doctors bill per consultation, which means that employees who schedule one appointment for one complaint make many insurance claims each year and drive up their subsequent year's premiums.
Prevention is the best cure:
As most of us take our good health for granted, it's intuitive to take an ad-hoc approach and book a doctor's appointment only when unpleasant symptoms or a check-up reminder appears. Encouraging employees to take a more preventative approach by booking multiple check-ups for a single visit could help identify potential health issues before they become a problem. It will also reduce your annual insurance costs.
5. Educate employees on visiting a general practitioner (GP) before a specialist
Employees who always go straight to specialists for all their complaints are wasting money, as not all specialist visits are necessary. The belief that specialist doctors have more in-depth knowledge than family doctors could be driving up your staff health insurance bill. Family doctors possess more than enough knowledge to rule out many common conditions, but at a much lower cost than specialists.
Advocate the use of family doctors:
Encouraging your staff to always see their family doctors before a specialist will reduce the size of their insurance claims, both directly and indirectly.
First of all, the GP costs less. But as the Department of Health - Abu Dhabi notes, access to primary care helps people live longer, healthier lives. Healthier employees attract lower insurance premiums as they require less healthcare– an added bonus for you.
6. Use telehealth services and in-house health insurance medical teams
When no alternatives are available, employees will visit clinics for minor problems and make an unnecessary insurance claim to cover the visit. Every visit to a health clinic costs money, and doctors do not adjust their fees according to each patient's condition. Many health complaints, however, can be managed from home.
Put remote care on your staff's radar
Selecting plans that include telehealth services or in-house medical teams could save you a lot of money. They enable employees to access remote medical advice without making expensive clinic visits.
Cutting healthcare costs does not have to mean poor quality care for your employees. Implementing the steps outlined in this article will help you reduce costs while empowering your workforce.Teaching staff to question their doctors more and establish healthier lifestyles gives them greater control over their health. Coupled with reduced healthcare costs for your company, it's the ultimate win-win scenario.
Related: How UAE-Based SMEs Should Customize Staff Health Insurance Benefits