What’s making costs rise for employers? Covering kids until age 26 is a big contributing factor. The elimination of lifetime benefit caps and unforeseen bookkeeping problems also will not help. With older kids being covered now, companies might not be able to charge any surcharges by law, but more firms will get around that by charging more for say, a family of 6 than for a family of 4. Deductibles and co-pays may go up as well like I explained above, to help employers counterbalance the increased cost.
For the time being, many firms are considering these options as a way to save money:
- High quality medical providers—for example, employers sending heart patients to the Cleveland or Mayo clinic instead of unnecessary appointments.
- Setting up a “medical home” for each patient, especially the chronically ill. A physician’s office coordinates specialists, nursing homes and other providers and shares in any cost savings.
- Tiered co-pays of non drug treatments, based on cost effectiveness—acupuncture and exercise instead of back surgery for example.
- Clinics and telephone care. Firms too small for their own on-site clinic set up kiosks so workers can consult by phone or the Internet with staff doctors or other health providers.