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Deliver-better-benefits_119322

Deliver better benefits for less: 3 tips

Leverage collaboration, data, and technology to drive down health-care costs.

April 1, 2021

How can credit unions continue delivering robust and competitive employee benefits when the trajectory of health-care costs is rising at such a steep pace?

Here are three ways to move in the right direction: Collaboration, data, and technology.

Collaboration

When purchasing health insurance for your employees, size and scale matter. The more employees on the plan, the more predictable the outcomes will be for insurance underwriters, equating to lower costs.

When multiple credit unions collaborate to purchase insurance together, the risk of high-cost claims is further spread out, equating to lower costs.

✔ Tip #1: Work with your trusted system of credit union providers (league, association, or credit union service organization [CUSO]) to build a collaborative healthcare model exclusive to credit unions.

These solutions have saved credit unions hundreds of thousands of dollars through volume-based negotiated medical insurance premiums.

Insurance captives, for example, allow credit unions to collaboratively purchase insurance more efficiently and at lower costs through their unique funding models. Transitioning to a self-insured funding model is more viable through an insurance captive.

Plus, captives are more flexible when it comes to carrier options and plan designs.

Association Health Plans (AHPs) are another proven model for credit unions collaborating to lower medical insurance costs. Although AHPs require trusted expert resources to evaluate, build, and launch, they exist in several states and credit unions have experienced successful results with them.

Data

Credit unions need better access to health-care claims data to prove to insurance carriers that we are a healthy population and an attractive risk for underwriters.

✔ Tip #2: Tell providers about “23%.” Our CUSO’s latest medical claims analytics report shows that credit unions’ per-employee-per-year (PEPY) medical claims costs are 23% less than other industries we evaluated. Are we as credit unions really 23% healthier than other industries?

Our data says yes.

When we compare our credit union employee claims against other industries (both white and blue collar), our participating credit union employees perform 23% better than employees across other industries.

Even when compared to other financial services employees, credit union employees still outperform their peers when it comes to gross PEPY medical claim costs.

Technology

Technology can help human resource departments reduce friction when delivering benefits to our most important assets—our employees.

✔ Tip #3: Offer employees a robust telemedicine app. Telemedicine refers to the delivery of health services such as doctor visits via communication networks and is the practice of medicine using technology.

This might include an initial consultation with a physician who can then provide a prescription or schedule an in-person visit if needed.

Telemedicine services increased dramatically during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. According to a McKinsey and Co. survey, 46% of U.S. consumers used telehealth to replace canceled health-care visits, up from 11% in 2019.

This explosion in telehealth adoption could mean up to $250 billion of current U.S. health-care spending stemming from virtual health care. Most patients and doctors who have used telehealth like it and will be more likely to adopt it post-pandemic.

Importantly, telehealth data analytics are now disclosing trends that have further boosted interest in digital health, such as demographic disparities, population growth, inefficient health-care systems, expanding mental health services, and ways to improve connectivity.

Telehealth is also generating savings and efficiency over traditional doctor visits, allowing insurance and telecommunications companies to benefit and better control future cost increases.

There are several telemedicine apps available, but we suggest finding a provider that offers more than just the telehealth features. Combining a benefits card wallet, patient and billing advocacy, doctor look-up features, and plan design and deductible status all within a telemedicine app will provide your employees with the most efficient technology to reduce your health-care costs.

JESSE KOHL is president of InterLutions, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider.