Out of pocket healthcare costs

4 Ways to Reduce Employees’ Unexpected Out-of-Pocket Healthcare Costs

By Mike Zarrillo, Chief Development Officer at Brella | February 10, 2021

Like most employers, you’ve probably had to make some tough choices to control the cost of your company’s health benefits in the past decade. In an effort to control rising premiums, employee healthcare costs in the form of deductibles, co-pays, co-insurance, and other out-of-pocket medical expenses have increased substantially.

Today, as much as 83% of insured workers are stuck with an average deductible of $1,644. Only a decade ago, 70% of workers had a $917 deductible on average. All in all, these numbers amount to an 111% increase in the burden of deductibles for insured workers! That’s not to mention the rise in out-of-pocket maximums, which the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services allowed to increase 35% since the Affordable Care Act was passed just 7 years ago.

The average out-of-pocket cost for healthcare is a heavy burden for your employees to bear, and unfortunately many don’t realize the implications of their plan until they’re faced with unaffordable medical bills after being treated for a health issue.

Given the fact that only 39% of Americans can afford to cover an unforeseen $1,000 healthcare expense, employers who don’t help their team manage healthcare costs risk the loss in productivity and morale that comes when employees are stressed about finances.

The good news is that by offering innovative and practical employee health benefits, employers can help their teams manage the average out-of-pocket costs for healthcare and any unexpected medical expenses that come their way. Try the following strategies to help ease the burden for your employees:

1. Offer a truly supplemental health insurance plan.

Traditional supplemental health insurance plans fall short when it comes to filling the gaps left by your employer-sponsored health insurance. Accident plans only cover accidents, for example, which excludes illnesses. Critical illness plans limit coverage to a short list of covered conditions, and hospital indemnity plans only apply if an employee is admitted to the hospital. As a result, sudden out-of-pocket medical expenses often aren’t covered by traditional voluntary policies. 

We started Brella because we believe supplemental health insurance plans should actually provide financial relief when employees are sick or injured. In just one simple plan, Brella covers more than 13,000 injuries and illnesses with no accident or hospital admission requirements. With Brella, your employees can choose the level of coverage they need to offset their cost-sharing responsibilities. Plus, they can use Brella’s benefits to cover other everyday costs that may pile up like groceries, transportation, and childcare. 

2. Choose employee health benefits that are easy to use.

Supplemental health insurance plans often sound great, but in practice they’re difficult to use. Most require employees to fill out and fax in long claim forms. And employees often wait weeks for their benefits to be approved and paid. This was once the norm in most of the business world, but today’s consumers want fast, digital experiences that provide greater ease and transparency. 

Brella makes it much easier to file a claim — and receive cash benefits for a wide range of covered conditions. All your team has to do is download the Brella app or log on to their online Member Portal. They can submit a claim in minutes and, once approved, they’ll receive their benefits in a few hours. 

Best of all, your employees don’t have to wait until their bill comes to file a claim. Any evidence that verifies their diagnosis will do. Employees can submit photos of items they commonly have on hand after treatment, such as photos of their hospital wristband, cast, or IV bag, discharge paperwork, lab results, or prescriptions. By offering employees a modern, easy-to-use way to control healthcare costs like Brella, you’ll not only save them money, but time and stress as well.

3. Improve financial and healthcare literacy.

Employees who have a solid financial position and who understand their benefits are less likely to be stressed by their health insurance cost-sharing responsibilities. However, many Americans live paycheck to paycheck and research has shown that 25% of those struggling make over $160,000 per year. Financial literacy, coaching, and health benefits navigation services can help employees across your organization build a stronger financial position and make more confident healthcare decisions. 

4. Don’t wait until 2022—make benefits changes off-cycle.

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, employees have new health concerns and pent up demand for care that was deferred in 2020. This means your employees are more likely than ever to pay out of pocket for healthcare in 2021. They can’t wait until 2022 for support. Consider adding supplemental health coverage like Brella off-cycle. It’s easier than you might think.

Brella was built to easily bolt onto existing health benefits programs. Our paperless implementation and account setup and easy online administration, we won’t create administrative headaches for your team. Plus, your team can learn about Brella, make their benefit selections, and enroll in minutes through our proprietary enrollment platform, Brella Enroll.

By carefully researching your choices and making bold changes early in 2021, you can ease the looming financial burden of out-of-pocket medical expenses for your employees and offer them much-needed peace of mind.

Don’t wait until next Open Enrollment to bring your team relief. If you’d like to learn more about Brella, have your broker email sales@joinbrella.com today.

Published by

Mike Zarrillo

Mike Zarrillo is Chief Revenue Officer at Brella Insurance. Mike brings years of sales leadership and business development experience from Guardian Life, Liberty Mutual, Maxwell Health, AIG, and The Hartford. A strategic and entrepreneurial business thinker, Mike’s experience in the group, voluntary/supplemental, and benefits administration spaces guide his leadership at Brella. He lives with his family in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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