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Balancing Act

Sandy_HeardI read a lot of HR blogs, benefit publications and employer surveys about how cost is a major factor when employers make benefits decisions. “Cost” is a broad term. Are we talking about the cost to the employee or the employer? Are we talking about hard dollar costs or soft dollar costs? While the monetary cost of a benefits plan certainly matters, employers must also consider their employees’ psyche: WIIFM (What’s in it for me)?

Playing to Two Audiences

According to the 2013 MetLife Employee Benefit Trends Study, 40% of employees look to their employer for more help in achieving financial security through employee benefits, compared to only 29% the year prior. In other words, benefits are incredibly important to employees right now.

As VP of Human Resources & Training, my goal is to balance the needs of our business with New Benefits’ greatest asset: our people. It can sometimes be difficult to walk the line, especially when it comes to benefits.

Guaranteed vs. Potential Impact

Employers should consider whether their employees would prefer a guaranteed impact or a potential impact on their paycheck. In my experience, most employees would rather have a lower amount coming out of their paycheck versus paying a higher premium for benefits they may or may not use.  Unfortunately, this typically means they’ll have a higher deductible and the potential for increased out-of-pocket expenses.

This is why I look to my broker for guidance and suggestions on products to help New Benefits and our employees reduce costs. Telehealth is one such solution. As Dulce pointed out in a previous blog, telehealth saves employees on co-pays and reduces costs for the employer. According to The American Medical Association (AMA), more than 70% of doctor's office visits can be handled over the phone.

For healthy employees who never come close to hitting their deductible, telehealth offers an effective way to minimize out-of-pocket expenses. When employees use telehealth instead of visiting their primary care physician for a minor illness, such as sinus infection or cold, the employer avoids having a claim hit their loss ratio numbers. This can lead to major savings for the employer and employee come renewal time.

- Sandy Heard, VP of Human Resources & Training

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