Ongoing research into the most effective methods for reducing healthcare costs includes price transparency as a key component. More than half of U.S. employers (52%) are on board with the idea of empowering their employees to shop around for the best value care. They just need the right tools for the job.
The goal is to drive down costs by steering employees in need of elective care away from high-cost, low-value facilities and toward low-cost, high-value facilities. Employers can take the first step with strategic plan design, but even within networks, facility charges can vary by over 500 percent for the same procedure. Other strategies, like making medical pricing data available to employees, is another step towards driving consumer awareness and behavior change. But studies show that simply providing access to this data alone does not impact plan costs.
We’ve found that the most impactful solutions involve more than just a comparison of prices. Employees need additional support, including calls to action and incentives. Healthcare Bluebook provides quality data and a simple, a clear process for employees to follow and financial rewards. Healthgram completes the solution by adding one-on-one advisors who proactively reach out to members before a scheduled procedure. The results are lower costs and better member experience.
To successfully decrease costs by driving care to higher-value facilities, initiatives must incorporate the following elements beyond simply making pricing data available:
Any price transparency tools or initiatives set in place should be supported by a member-centered approach to care. It should extend beyond selecting a facility and into managing long-term treatments, utilization trends and care with the needs of members at the forefront. This can include a concierge-level approach that guides members to the right facilities and helps them navigate the healthcare system, as well as proactive and consistent outreach to those who may need screenings or medical procedures.
As they do when shopping for any retail product, members should have easy access to tools that clearly explain their healthcare options. In this case, employers have a significant opportunity to have an impact. Strategic employee communications that feature examples of real savings, testimonials and even videos showing just how easy it is to access high-value care all help raise awareness and inspire action.
Quality and trust are major factors when choosing a medical care provider. Ensure that any tools you are using take into account a quality rating. This will help consumers feel comfortable making a change in providers if their current providers are among those overcharging for services.
When employees choose high-value providers over low-value providers, they are in the position to save themselves and the health plan a significant amount of money. Reward these types of savings opportunities with cash or gift card incentives. Since they will be able to save on medical costs as well as receive an incentive, members will be more likely to price shop anytime they need medical services.
Learn more about our concierge-level member experience, which helps turn static price information into long-term utilization shifts.