3 Questions Featured

8:00pm EDT May 26, 2009

Dell Kubler, vice president of Swerdlin Benefits Co., has 29 years of experience as a career professional in employee benefit consulting and group insurance. The majority of his experience is serving as lead consultant by managing the cost and plan design of a wide array of benefits for large employer groups. Kubler’s background includes work with an international insurance company as well as direct work with employee-benefit-related Internet technology.

Q. Are plans with higher employee-paid deductibles a long-term solution to rising health care costs?

No. The primary goal of consumer-driven health care is to educate the consumer on the true cost of health benefits and have them get involved in the process. The higher deductibles with no co-pays tend to shock consumers into better awareness of the costs of their health benefits. However, higher deductibles are not lowering health care premiums as was originally anticipated. Employer promotion of health is a better solution.

Q. What can employers do to take an active role in the process?

Promoting good health effectively should lead to happier, more productive employees — if not lower health care costs. The best place to begin an initiative in this direction is to make sure you are fully utilizing the wellness tools and services provided by the current health care provider. Wellness services are promoted aggressively during the sales process, but the employer must provide education and guidance on this program to enjoy the full benefits.

Q. Are there any areas of health care that are being overlooked today that might produce some savings to the employer?

We see two areas that can produce significant savings for the employer and employees.

Employers need to understand how to manage their risk, which creates tremendous opportunities for cost savings. The key is to design the risk sharing among the employer, the employee and the insurance carrier, based on the employer’s risk tolerance. New market tools provide the opportunity to substantially lower health insurance premiums and greatly reduce an employer’s overall health care budget. Also, focus on your pharmacy expenses. These expenses make up a significant portion of the total cost of your health plan.