Large employers say rougher ways to cut health benefits costs seem to work better, at least in the short run, than gentler ways.
Analysts at the National Business Group on Health, a Washington-based association for large benefit plan sponsors, give large employers’ views on what works in a summary of results from a recent survey of 133 member employers. The employers provide benefits for an average of about 113,000 people.
The NGBH team asked the employers for general cost trend information. The participating employers said they have held cost increases to 6 percent per year for 2015 and 2016, and that they expect to use plan design changes to cut the increase to 5 percent in 2017.
The survey team also asked the employers to identify the top three drivers of successful efforts to hold down health benefits spending.
A few praised tools such as health care price transparency tools and efforts to improve vendor management. But more said the most effective tools tend to involve narrowing care options and increasing what the employees pay for a care.
For a look at the large employers’ favorite strategies for cutting health care costs, read on:
Improving the management of care should lead to big savings. Someday. (Photo: Thinkstock)
6. Getting away from fee-for-service approach
Wellness, disease management and concierge programs, and efforts to get away from the model that pays doctors to do as much surgery as they can get away with sounds appealing.
In theory, these ideas should help employers control the cost of care while improving quality and enrollee satisfaction. At the large employers surveyed, these ideas all ranked neared the bottom in terms of their power to control costs. Each of these had about 5 percent of the large employers identifying it as the top driver of holding down health care costs.
Knocking expensive doctors out of the provider directory may work a little faster than care management. (Photo: Thinkstock)
5. Narrow provider networks
A slightly larger share of the big employers — 6 percent — identified limiting the number of providers in the plan directory as a major cost-cutting drivers.