Annual Planning: Best Practices Check List

With this post, we at the blog are officially kicking off annual planning for 2018. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be offering advice and check lists for 2018, including some special to-do’s for prescription drugs and time-off benefits. We thought a good place to start this year is with a list of best practices. 

The list below contains 25 health benefit best practices from the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans. Each year we compare the performance of employers that use the most of these best practices with those using the fewest (the top and bottom quartiles). And each year we find that those using the most best practices have lower average healthcare cost increases. (In 2016, the two groups had average increases of 3.8% and 4.8%, respectively.)

As you review the list, highlight the practices you have in place. Once complete, there are two ways to look at your results.  One way would be to look at all the things you are not doing and consider them as options for 2018. But if you already have many of these strategies or tactics in place, a better approach for your organization might be to carefully consider whether you are getting the results you expected. Is there opportunity to improve? Should you redirect funding to another program? 

We update the best practice list every year. Let us know if you have suggestions.

What's Working to Hold Down Cost Growth?

25 Best Practice Cost-Management Strategies

  • Offer CDHP
  • HSA sponsor makes a contribution to employees’ accounts
  • Offer voluntary supplemental health insurance
  • Mandatory generics or other Rx strategies
  • Steer members to specialty pharmacy for specialty drugs
  • Reference-based pricing
  • Collective purchasing of Rx benefits
  • Transparency tool provided by specialty vendor
  • Use private health benefits exchange
  • Offer optional (paid) well-being programs through plan or vendor
  • Provide opportunity to participate in personal/group health challenges and peer to peer support
  • Offer technology-based well-being resources (apps, devices, web-based)
  • Worksite biometric screening
  • Onsite exercise/weight loss or yoga programs
  • Use incentives for well-being programs
  • Spouses and/or children may participate in programs
  • Smoker surcharge
  • Offer EAP
  • High-performance networks
  • Surgical centers of excellence
  • Primary care on-site clinic
  • Telemedicine (either through health plan or specialty vendor)
  • Flexible benefits strategy
  • Medical homes
  • Accountable care organizations

 Source: Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans 2016

Tracy Watts
by Tracy Watts

Senior Partner, National Leader for U.S. Health Policy

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