- Seventy-one percent (71%) of employers say they use case management services to identify barriers that might prevent workers from getting the best care, according to a report from the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans — making it the top method employers use to control healthcare costs.
- Rounding out the report's top five cost-cutting techniques were: 24-hour nurse advice lines for employees; prior authorization requirements to determine whether a treatment is medically necessary; telemedicine; and healthcare claims utilization analysis, which helps identify the top health concerns for employees. Telemedicine's popularity has increased the most among these offerings, with 64% of employers providing the option in 2018 compared to 44% in 2016.
- Other common ways employers save on healthcare, according to the survey, include dependent eligibility audits; four tiers of cost-sharing; price transparency/comparison tools; health care claims audits; and health care consumer education.
With experts predicting a 5% rise in healthcare costs for 2019, it's no surprise employers have diversified the suite of cost-cutting healthcare services they offer to employees. Employers have long had an interest in managing rising healthcare costs, though historically, employees have shouldered part of the burden through increased healthcare premiums. Recently, some high-profile employers, including Intel, Boeing and Walmart, have bypassed insurers and started negotiating directly with providers to save money on services. Others have even increased their advocacy for alternative healthcare delivery systems, like accountable care organizations.
Employers may be able to save by examining the data on employees' healthcare spending to identify areas of waste, which often include medical imaging and medications. Some look to preventive wellness programs to keep employees healthy and, as a result, to keep premiums from skyrocketing. Although one study challenges the notion that well-being programs save on healthcare costs, 85% of employers plan to invest in these initiatives over the next three years, according to Willis Towers Watson.