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Industry leaders share how to manage rising healthcare costs

At the 2023 ViVE conference, industry leaders discussed how employers can manage rising healthcare costs. These are our key takeaways.

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US employers expect the cost of health benefits to rise 5.6% in 2023, up from a 4.4% increase in 2022. This increase is in addition to record-setting inflation that has rocked nearly every sector of the economy in the last year. Because employee benefits are often a company’s most expensive line item after payroll, keeping up with rising healthcare costs can be especially challenging. 

When these costs swell in size, employers are often left with more questions than answers. How do you manage these costs while remaining competitive in an intense labor market? Is it necessary to sacrifice quality of care to make ends meet? When is enough, enough?

Industry leaders from across the country came together to answer these questions during a panel at ViVE conference in Nashville this past month. The speaking session featured Collective Health’s own Chief Growth Officer, Jennifer Danielson, as well as Anisha Sood, Chief Financial and Strategy Officer of First Choice Health, Nick Stefanizzi, CEO of Northwell Direct, Snezana Mahon, Pharm.D., Chief Operating Officer of Transcarent, and was moderated by Sari Kaganoff, General Manager, Consulting of Rock Health.  

Here are our key takeaways from the event. 

The healthcare industry is at a tipping point.

“Every single stakeholder is struggling,” said Snezana Mahon. “From the consumer to the provider to the employer, all across the board.” The pandemic and inflationary economic environment that followed it led to a sea change in the healthcare industry. Costs are becoming increasingly prohibitive for consumers, who often cannot afford the care they need. Many hospitals and providers are operating at negative margins. 

While conversations about rising healthcare costs are not new, what makes this current situation different is that employers are hungry for change. Employers, as the main payers for healthcare, have the power today to make real, lasting changes and provide unique solutions to long-standing problems.

You don’t have to sacrifice quality to balance costs.

The healthcare industry has never had more data and information available to make the best possible decisions for your employees. Instead of looking for the one solution that perfectly fits your entire employee population, the objective should be to figure out how to knit together multiple solutions that better fit the needs of your broad, unique employee base.

“There are no easy solutions,” said Jennifer Danielson. “The question for employers is how do you get your employees engaged enough to care about and use the high-quality resources that are available to them?” 

One size does not fit all. 

The rise of remote work means that employee populations are often far more dispersed than they were a few years ago. Employees in large metropolitan areas will have a different level of access than employees in rural towns, and no single health plan will provide a consistent experience for everyone. Employers will often turn to point solutions to bridge these gaps.

However, haphazardly combining different point solutions can lead employers to lose sight of the big picture, or “point solution palooza,” as Nick Stefanizzi puts it. To ensure high-quality healthcare for all employees, no matter where they live, employers should turn to an integrated health benefits platform that brings all of these solutions together in one ecosystem. Because these platforms coordinate all of a company’s health benefits, from medical plans to boutique benefits for mental health or fertility, employers can confidently mix-and-match vendors and services to build a benefits package that meets the needs of their employees.

Innovative health benefits solutions can make a difference for your employees.

Employers are ready to branch out beyond traditional health benefits. They’re asking their employees what they ‌want and need from their healthcare, and adding benefits that meet them where they are on their health journey. 

“You can never take the human element out of healthcare. It doesn't matter how much tech or data you throw at it… you can’t take the human element out of healthcare overall,” said Jennifer. “When we get the honor to talk to someone on the phone or through other connection points, we look at it as an opportunity to listen for the things that are unsaid, to listen for the things that are complicating factors, and to listen for the things that are preventing them from doing things that should be easy. It's listening to them as individuals and connecting to them on a deeper layer beyond just their benefits structure.”

We know that employers are willing to get creative to find a health benefits solution that both meets the needs of their employees and keeps costs under control. However, in a crowded space with hundreds of point solutions to choose from, feeling confident in your health benefits decisions and communicating their value to your employees can feel overwhelming.

That’s where Collective Health comes in. Our employer platform was designed to streamline your health benefits plans and point solutions into one intuitive experience. Bringing it all together means your benefits team can better understand the impact of their health benefits choices and stay focused on the big picture—creating a healthcare experience that delights and engages your employees. 

Get in touch today to learn more about Collective Health’s employer experience.

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