Data can reveal savings opportunity
It’s no secret that employer health costs continue to rise. The National Business Group on Health (NBGH) reported in August that health costs for next year are projected to approach $15,000 per employee. According to the NBGH survey, employers cover around 70% of the total employer-paid premium, which means the per-employee share will total $4,500.
As health costs outpace the general rate of inflation, employers are in search of new ideas to help contain costs while preserving a competitive benefit package.
“Traditionally, when faced with increased costs, employers had limited options. Most either increased deductibles or shifted more of the cost-share to employees,” said Mike Bukaty, chairman and CEO of Bukaty Companies. “Today, we provide our clients with more effective options such as transparency tools, wellness programs, direct provider contracts and data analytics.”
Controlling costs through data analytics
While only limited data is available to small group plans, large groups with 100-plus employees have access to volumes of plan data. But to provide value, the data has to have meaning.
“An important element of our consulting relationship with a large account is the quality of the monthly and quarterly reports we provide,” said Bukaty. “Data by itself is not particularly helpful without comprehensive analysis. It’s our job to uncover what claims are being incurred, which trends are emerging, how is pharmacy spend affecting overall costs, are chronic conditions being managed appropriately, etc.”
In the quest to manage health care costs, the Bukaty philosophy is to leave no stone unturned. In addition to plan-generated data, national surveys and benchmarking data are used to accurately forecast inflationary trends. With a cumulative understanding of what factors are affecting costs, strategic plan recommendations are made.
“Managing costs isn’t about slashing benefits, it’s about steering your membership through well-constructed plan design to make the best-cost health care decisions for themselves and their family,” Bukaty added.