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12 ways to slay the health care inflation dragon

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in HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Issue: The CEO is looking over HR's shoulder, expecting you to find the magic bullet to reduce health-insurance costs.

Benefit: Saving the organization money will heighten your stature as a strategic player.

Action: Use these 12 ideas as talking points with plan vendors. More than anyone, you know the ugly health-premium increase numbers:

11 percent in 2001, 13 percent in 2002 and 14 percent in 2003, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And lots of businesses are suffering worse hikes.

"For many companies, the cost of group medical benefits is approaching, and in some cases exceeding, the after-tax profits of the corporation," Kathleen Strukoff, VP of Aon Consulting, told those attending a recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference.

A new SHRM study says that while few businesses (only 3 percent) have considered dropping health coverage in response, a full 75 percent have changed their health care plan's design.

Strukoff put forth dozens of cost-cutting ideas that HR professionals should investigate, if they're not already, including:

1. Tiered hospital and pharmacy coverage: Employees pay more for the best hospitals, and the most expensive drugs.

2. Salary-related contributions: Higher-paid employees pay higher deductibles, co-pays or premiums.

3. Self-insured status: In the past few years, self-insured plans have seen lower premium hikes.

4. Defined-contribution plan: Employees given set amount (say $5,000) to design plan with certain insurance company.

5. Opt-out incentives: Employees or dependents given financial incentives to opt out of the plan.

6. Disease management: Use claims data to figure which diseases are driving your costs and try to identify those diseases earlier.

7. Case management: Focus on "train wreck" cases, and make sure insurer manages their costs.

8. Health-risk assessments: Employees complete online-wellness checks, earning them small rewards.

9. On-site medical services: keeps employees out of ER and on the job. It's mostly applicable to big firms.

10. Claim audits: Look at accuracy of how insurance claims are paid.

11. Personal health-management tools: Send e-mail to employees on customized health tips.

12. Health savings accounts: like a medical 401(k), helps employees become better health consumers.

Free-E-visory report:

... and 25 more

For 25 more ways to cure your organization's health-insurance cost blues, access our free E-visory report, Health Cost Containment Strategies, at www.hrspecialist.net/extra.

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