As employers gradually shift the financial burden of health insurance to employees, it’s become more critical than ever for workers to do their homework and carefully manage healthcare expenses. If employees don’t learn how to price comparison shop for costly medical procedures, it could create increased financial burden and stress.
In the past year, we’ve seen a trend spreading throughout the benefits world: Employees are becoming increasingly responsible for footing their own healthcare bills. In fact, 56% of companies increased employee copayments and/or premium shares in 2013 and 59% say they plan to do the same before the end of 2014*. To top it off, 19% of companies switched to a combination of health savings accounts and high-deductible health plans.
According to the WorkForces Report, employees say they regularly underestimate the cost of most medical procedures. When asked whether they could cover just part of the cost of major medical treatments or surgical procedures, 53% of employees said they’d have to borrow from their 401(k) or use a credit card. That’s no surprise considering 49% of surveyed workers say they have less than $1,000 on hand to cover out-of-pocket expenses associated with a serious illness or accident—and 27% have less than $500.
Some of these employees are already struggling to pay their medical bills. In fact, 13% have been contacted by a collection agency about outstanding medical bills and 10% say their inability to pay expensive medical bills has had a negative impact on their credit scores.
So who is going to teach these employees how to manage skyrocketing healthcare costs? Most employees (68%) believe their companies will educate them. Yet the majority of surveyed employers (60%) say workers should be more responsible for educating themselves about benefit options.
Sounds to me like a recipe for disaster.
Knowledge is Power—Arm Yourself
In today’s changing healthcare climate, employees and employers need to share the responsibility for both healthcare costs and good decision-making. It’s important to do your research and tap into the valuable resources out there. I’ve listed a few of these resources below.
- Workforce Magazine
- Health Advocate Video
- Teladoc Video
- Doctors Online Video
- Sea of Change Video
- Healthcare 101 Video
- Healthy Insurance Exchange: How Do Deductibles and Copays Work Video
- Consumer Cost Lookup
- Why Healthcare Is So Expensive Video
With these and countless other resources available online, employers and employees can stay informed and keep medical costs in check. When it comes to healthcare, a little bit of research goes a long way.
–Marti Powles, COO
Copyright © 2014 by New Benefits, Ltd. All rights reserved.
*According to the 2014 Aflac WorkForces Report.