The rising costs of healthcare are hitting all levels of the country hard, but small businesses and individuals who are self-employed are among the ones who are feeling the biggest pinch. While it may seem difficult, if not impossible to work with your employees to help reduce the overall impact of healthcare costs to the organization and to the staff, there are some steps you can take that will help. From wellness initiatives to planning ahead, see how small businesses can afford the rising costs of healthcare.

Create Proactive Wellness Initiatives

Do your staff members have a Fitbit or other fitness tracking tool? If not, this may be the ideal Christmas gift. If your budget is limited, try a step counter as a good first “step” towards wellness. Encourage staff to track their daily fitness and food intake and look for a provider who is able to gamify wellness to encourage adoption from the staff. These proactive measures can help reduce the staff’s long-term reliance on healthcare by maintaining a healthier overall profile. Reducing weight is also a valuable step towards wellness, so bringing in a Weight Watchers at Work or other similar programs may be beneficial to your staff. When the leadership of the organization takes the time to promote these options, staff will begin to take notice and see the true potential in a focus on healthier living.

Reduce Overall Healthcare Costs

While you wouldn’t want to recommend that your staff not use the healthcare benefits that they’re paying for, you can encourage them to take steps to use their healthcare dollars more effectively. Start by coaching staff to visit their primary care doctor for wellness visits on an annual basis, and educate them on the values of preventative medicine. Discuss the ways you can tell when they should be visiting an ER instead of going to their primary care doctor, and why the ER costs are so high.

Here are a few tips to determine if an ER visit is truly required:

  • If you’re wheezing or unable to breathe effectively
  • Continuous bleeding that is not clotting
  • Chest pain
  • Intense, localized abdominal pain
  • Coughing or vomiting blood
  • Severe injury to the head, specifically when you lose consciousness
  • Sudden inability to see, move, hear or walk
  • Blood in the urine or vomiting blood

It’s important that you not downplay a serious illness, as not getting access to the care that you need in a timely manner can cause a great deal of damage to your body. However, an urgent care provider or Teledoctor is often an acceptable way to determine if an ER visit is truly required.

Planning (and Using!) Your HSA

If having an HSA, or Health Savings Account, is new to your organization you may need to create a series of targeted training sessions to introduce the concept. Health Savings Accounts are becoming increasingly popular as a way to reduce the overall cost of and reliance on healthcare outside the home. An interesting side effect of using an HSA is that employees become more conscious of the cost of using services, and may be more reluctant to immediately head to the doc at the first sign of a sniffle or sprain. Health savings accounts allow participants to take a much more active role in their wellness, by raising awareness of the overall benefits package and transferring the responsibility for savings from the insurance company to the individual. Did you know that an HSA can actually be used as a retirement account? The funds that are in your HSA do not expire, but can be eventually removed or transferred to an IRA. Some team members may be a bit cautious when being introduced to this option for funding their healthcare. However, it continues to gain adoption as staff members appreciate the lowered amounts coming from their paycheck on a regular basis.

When your business is actively focused on the wellness of your staff, healthcare costs will eventually come down to a more reasonable level.

Check out our free download: A Definitive Guide to Health Insurance Terminology.

Want to learn more about reducing your overall healthcare costs or unraveling confusing healthcare or insurance concepts? The professionals at Employers Select Insurance Services can help with additional suggestions for reducing your organization’s reliance on traditional healthcare. Give them a call today for a free, no-obligation estimate at 916-248-4777.