Health Behaviors You Must Modify to Reduce Healthcare Costs

When it comes to leading a healthy lifestyle, it’s hard for anyone—let alone a company—to tell someone how to live their life. This is why healthcare costs in general are traditionally so inconsistent. For employers with self-funded insurance programs, this inconsistency in employee health behaviors can also cause healthcare costs to fluctuate. In fact, a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 79 percent or organizations saw their healthcare costs rise from 2016 to 2017.

While employers can provide significant guidance to make it easier than ever to receive quality care, at the end of the day patients are ultimately responsible for their health outcomes. But employers can take proactive care to the next level by educating employees and other stakeholders about health behaviors and values that directly impact healthcare costs.

Below, we’ll look at three critical health behaviors and how they impact healthcare costs.

Regular primary care visits

Visiting a doctor regularly is the best way to stay healthy and avoid the onset of chronic conditions. Unfortunately, many Americans flat-out avoid going to a primary care physician–around 28 percent of men and 17 percent of women don’t have a regular doctor on call. This lack of interest in preventative health can be attributed to a few factors (rising costs and uncertainty about the healthcare industry as a whole are at the top of the list) and the problem is only getting worse. Over 27 percent of surveyed millennials (aka the new workforce generation) say that they will avoid going to a doctor because of costs. Without these regular visits, however, it is difficult to track and monitor certain conditions or possible illnesses, often until it is too late.

Sometimes, just having improved access to a primary care physician can jumpstart a person’s renewed interest in preventative care. Other times, it can take serious education and affirmation on the ins and outs of healthcare costs and why preventative programs are the answer. Employers must realize that each of their employees are different, and thus will latch on to different reasons why primary care visits are the answer to long-term health.

Healthy eating habits

It might not seem like employers can do much to influence the eating habits of employees, but consider how many times throughout the day people tend to snack. And for many in the workforce, walking into a break room every day to see donuts, sugary treats, and salty snacks is a truly overwhelming test of willpower.

Alarmingly, a majority of chronic conditions are connected to eating habits, including diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol. Educating and working with employees to modify eating habits can lead to substantial long-term results, including reducing the risk of these chronic conditions. Employers can also make conscious decisions regarding the types of foods that are stocked in break rooms to encourage employees along the right path. HR and wellness teams should also look into possible partnerships with local organic farms or lifestyle-conscious restaurants when ordering meals for a group or for a team. It may not seem like much, but these small changes can make a big impact for many employees down the road.

Healthy lifestyle values

While it may seem as though employees spend a majority of their time at work, they have lives outside of the office as well. While healthcare may seem like a byproduct of ‘daily life at the office,’ the only way healthy behaviors will actually impact employees is when they seek true commitment to these values outside of the office.

Today’s job force is actively looking to enter into partnerships with healthy lifestyle-conscious organizations. Younger generations have seen how inconsistent the American healthcare system is, and they are now seeking out resources to help develop and maintain healthy lifestyles.

On top of offering improved access to care, employers can also promote healthy lifestyle values to their employee population in the form of benefits or employee perks. These can include things like:

  • A monthly gym stipend or free workout sessions
  • Weekly onsite yoga or in-office meditation
  • Partnerships with lifestyle, fitness, or wellness coaches
  • Involvement with charity events like 5ks, walks, and even outdoor community events

While these lifestyle initiatives offer amazing benefits to employees, they can also help organizations attract and retain talent, making the hiring process more competitive while widening the pool of possible new hires.

Making Healthcare a High Priority is Key

Changing the way employees think about healthcare can help lower healthcare costs for self-funded organizations. Instead of an afterthought in a busy lifestyle, healthy behaviors and choices should be at the forefront of people’s minds.

OurHealth offers a unique approach to employer-sponsored healthcare that focuses on lowering costs while increasing access to primary care and wellness programming.

To learn more: Download your FREE copy of the Employer’s Guide to Onsite and Near-site Healthcare Solutions from OurHealth.

5 Ways Onsite and Near-Site Clinics Can Deliver Savings

When it comes to healthcare initiatives, employers often look for low-cost, immediate-impact options that are supposed to deliver ‘big bang’ results without the high price tags. Too often, however, these low-cost initiatives disappoint by delivering low-quality outcomes, resulting in a continuous cycle of new program additions, higher costs, and rigid guidelines that employers and employees alike must abide by.

Employee healthcare is one of the largest expenses an employer will incur. As such, it deserves a quality, long-term savings approach in order to keep costs lower. While it may sound counterintuitive, investing in initiatives like onsite or near-site clinics can actually mean increased ROI both in the shortand especiallythe long term.

While these clinics require a considerable amount of start-up investment, the potential ROI is incredibly tangible and can provide significant dividends for organizations that take the leap sooner than later.

Here are 5 ways onsite and near-site clinics can deliver long-term savings:

1. Redirecting Primary Care Visits

In today’s unpredictable claims environment, employees are given a plethora of physician choices. However, only a handful of those physicians are likely covered by the employer’s health insurance plan of choice. Instead of continuing to use this approach where employees struggle to even identify a physician they want to see that’s actually covered under their policy, they can visit an onsite clinic whichalong with providing quality care without travel timehas no fluctuation in cost and little to no surprise charges. Employees also know what they’re going to be charged ahead of time, thanks to transparent employer communication.

2. Reducing Avoidable ED Visits

One of the largest costs to an employer’s health insurance bill is the Emergency Department – an average visit costs $1,233. Incredibly, a whopping 71% of ED visits are unnecessary, which means the cost was avoidable. But many patients are compelled to use the ER as their source for care – simply because they have no other source for care – especially in time of need.

By offering employees onsite and near-site clinic access with options for acute care needs, many non-emergent and unnecessary ER visits can be avoided. Patients will have convenient access to a dedicated primary care provider for acute needs such as back pain, stomach aches, urinary tract infections, as well as long-term effective treatment for chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, whose acute symptoms can land patients in the ER with surprising regularity. Delivering improved access to care through onsite clinics gives employees an easier option for emergency care than driving all the way to an ED or calling a very costly ambulance. In many circumstances, onsite clinics can readily deliver the necessary acute care for these employee ‘emergencies,’ helping them avoid the EDand the ED costsall together.   

3. Keeping Costly Specialty Referrals in Check

In today’s network-based healthcare environment, specialty care referrals are made based on in-network relationships and partnerships, which doesn’t always equate to providing patients with the highest level of care. Instead of only allowing employees to visit certain specialists, employees with access to an independent, unaffiliated onsite or near-site clinic can be referred to whomever provides the best quality care at the best value, regardless of network. Having the independence to operate outside of traditional hospital or physician network boundaries allows independent onsite clinics to deliver high-quality coordinated care without compromising on value.

4. Controling Direct Costs to Labs and Pharmacies

Another important component of self-funded healthcare is direct costs, which includes pharmaceuticals and diagnostic lab tests. Some onsite and near-site clinics, such as those OurHealth provides, include onsite dispensaries with the most frequently prescribed medications in stock. These generic drugs can be obtained for almost 20% lower than market prices, delivering the cost savings directly back to employers. Laboratory tests also present a high-cost charge for employers, but with onsite clinics that leverage lab test purchase agreements in bulk, lab prices can be discounted at least 70% lower than market prices.     

5. Managing Chronic Conditions

One of the main reasons employers invest in onsite clinics is to help employees that battle chronic conditions maintain healthy outcomes. Providing easy access to care makes it easier for employees with chronic conditions to visit the doctor, keep up with improvement plans (losing weight, monitoring blood pressure, etc.), and feel motivated to lead healthy lifestyles—all without having to leave the job site. Having a wellness-focused organization can also help identify chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease early and help prevent worsening or spreading. Investing in an onsite or near-site clinic is the best way to show employees that the company is invested in their health, which is a motivating factor to live well.

Start Saving Today with Onsite and Near-Site Clinics

For high-impact wellness initiatives to actually deliver value and results, a significant investment is a must. Fortunately, the savings is readily available for organizations who take steps towards delivering a new kind of healthcare to employees. Organizations like OurHealth are providing high-quality, long-term onsite and near-site health clinics to employers looking to cut back on healthcare costs.

To learn more: Download your FREE copy of the Employer’s Guide to Onsite and Near-site Healthcare Solutions from OurHealth.

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