Fact: health care is expensive.
To iterate that utterly accurate statement is to play a broken record, or assume the role of Phil in the movie Groundhog Day. But this isn’t a phonograph and you’re not Bill Murray; this is health care and you’re a hardworking employer who continues to listen in on the narrative about rising costs on procedures and prescription drugs.
The bad news? The narrative isn’t fiction; costs continue to rise and we all continue to talk about it.
The good news? Your health insurance company is likely working on ways to help combat costs and empower your employees with the means necessary to navigate those pesky, rising costs.
Taking advantage of your health insurers’ cost transparency tool is among the easiest and most cost-effective ways your employees can save on care. Almost every health insurance company has a cost transparency or savings tool. At Priority Health, we call ours Cost Estimator. Here’s a fact you might find intriguing: Cost Estimator has saved upwards of $9 million in health care costs since it launched just three years ago.
How does it work?
Once a member learns they need a procedure such as an X-ray or a prescription such as Zocor, they can go into Cost Estimator and simply search for it. The tool will bring up facility and provider options near them for procedures. For prescriptions, Cost Estimator will point out a nearby facility, show the estimated cost for the drug and it will show the member a lower cost generic alternative if there’s one available. Members have easy access to the tool through their online member account—and all of the pricing provided is based on each member’s specific plan.
From finding a high-quality, low-cost facility or doctor to conduct a routine procedure, to pointing out lower-cost generic alternatives on the industry’s widely prescribed medications, Cost Estimator is a mainstay in empowering members with the means necessary to not only save money, but also make more informed decisions regarding their care. In fact, at Priority Health, we’re working on ways to make using Cost Estimator a regular part of the process in receiving care. This effort includes equipping employers with communications and tools to help them relay the benefits of Cost Estimator to their employees.
What’s more about tools like Cost Estimator is, in some cases (such as ours), members are rewarded just for using them. As part of our rewards program, members who schedule an upcoming procedure at an approved facility receive a VISA gift card for up to $200, depending on the procedure. That means many of these programs work two-fold to first save the member money and then reward them for doing so. That’s because every amount matters in lowering costs. But you already knew that.
So, as an employer facing your benefits renewal period, ask yourself the following:
- Does my health insurance company have a cost transparency or savings tool?
- If so, what’s it called?
- Will my insurer help my employees use the tool and ultimately saving themselves (and ultimately, the company) money on care?
If you already offer Priority Health to your employees, you’ve made the smart choice because the answer to these questions is yes, yes and yes. If not, odds are your insurer has a program to help your employees see and save on costs. Now would be a great time to look into that to help control the rising cost of care for your employees—and your business.