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How employers can navigate rising health care costs

Health care costs are on the rise. Here are few tips for employers on how to shift and navigate.

It seems like there’s a lot of talk about health care costs rising, but the discussion stops short of how employers can navigate their way toward better managing their costs. The “health care costs are rising” statement alone can seem nebulous and leave employers at a loss on how to navigate this steady and significant uptick.

According to KFF’s 2022 Employer Health Benefits Survey, the average premium for family coverage has increased 20 percent over the last 5 years and 43 percent over the last 10 years.1 On top of that, workers’ wages increased by 6.7 percent and inflation increased 8 percent.2 As inflation continues to grow, managing expenses across the board are top of mind for employers and employees alike.

While data isn’t the full answer, it is a starting point to guide employers toward a strategy to help them navigate health care costs rising for reasons outside of their control. Possible factors include a growing and aging population that requires more acute care as its members reach retirement age, others who are increasingly getting care they deferred during the pandemic, and the need for a highly trained health care labor workforce.

What to consider when choosing a group health insurance plan

When you consider an insurance carrier, evaluate its structure. Structure can make a big difference in plan affordability and the resources an insurer can provide to help lower health care costs. Take note of insurers who are part of an integrated health care system, like the one encompassing UPMC Health Plan, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), and the University of Pittsburgh Schools of Health Sciences.

This structure allows providers and payers to work together to deliver high-quality care at low costs. Partnering with an integrated health care system like ours offers many benefits that allow you to:

Another critical area to consider when selecting an insurer is the overall value its offerings provide. When you choose UPMC Health Plan, you get quality, access, choice, and value for your company and your employees. Our plans can meet the needs of businesses of all sizes and across industries, and they include rich add-on services for your covered employees at no additional cost:

  • Digital tools and telehealth - Access to innovative digital tools can help employees understand their current health and provide ways for them to improve their health—anytime and anywhere. Telehealth ensures that employees have 24/7 access to care and receive a rapid response to their health needs no matter where they are located.
  • Spending accounts - There are many different spending account options. These accounts can be an effective way to help contain health costs for both your business and your employees. For example, health care flexible spending accounts (FSAs) allow employees to use their tax-free savings to pay for qualified out-of-pocket health care expenses such as pharmacy and office visit copayments. As the employer, you don’t pay payroll taxes on the savings your employees accumulate.
  • Health coaching - Offering a health coaching program bolsters traditional benefits by supporting employees in achieving their wellness goals. We offer a variety of programs to support your employees in making lifestyle changes and managing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, COPD, and asthma.
  • Behavioral health support - Offering access to behavioral health tools, programs, and services in your benefits package is a crucial component of maintaining the overall well-being of your business. Our behavioral health coaching enables employees to get help from licensed professionals to address anxiety, depression, substance use disorders, and more.

There is a plan for every budget with UPMC Health Plan

All the information in the world might not seem to help, but more information is exactly what employers need to develop a plan to navigate rising health care costs for themselves and their employees who often share costs like premiums. Specifically, employers need to fully understand what their employees need and want when it comes to coverage and network, and the costs associated with them.

Once you understand your employees’ needs, you can use this knowledge to advance to the next step—comparing plans. Progressing from the discovery process to the comparison process can help you strike a balance and select a plan that’s best for your company. Your business size and where your employees are located can factor into and influence your decision. For example, if, you have a mid-size business in a certain area and most of your employees work onsite, a narrow network with extended network coverage for travel might make sense for you. Conversely, if you have a combination of onsite and remote employees, you might need to choose a plan with a broad network.

Even if you think you know your employees’ needs, it’s always a good idea to ask again so you can re-evaluate based on changes that may have taken place with respect to your structure, working arrangements, and current plan. You can conduct an anonymous survey to get an idea of information like where your employees are located in relation to where their doctors are and what plan features and benefits your employees want. This can help guide you in selecting a plan that offers the network and coverage your employees need at price that is affordable for them. Many online survey tools are available for free.

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We can partner with you to find an affordable plan that meets the needs of your company and your employees. All of our plans offer access to high-quality care to help your employees get or stay as healthy as possible.

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Find out more about our employer group coverage:

Contact your producer or call 1-833-825-2696

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12022 Employer Health Benefits Survey. KFF. Published Oct. 27, 2022. Accessed July 5, 2023. kff.org/report-section/ehbs-2022-summary-of-findings/

2Ibid.

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4Ibid.

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