GROUP HEALTH PLANS:
CONSUMERISM MEETS TECHNOLOGY
Everyone likes a good deal. Groupon and online retails have built an internet culture around getting the most for your money, and millions purchase products and services daily with the assistance of pricing tools, comparative data, watch lists, and texts alerts when the price hits a low.
Until recently, the solution many employers were pitched when it came to reducing premiums on their group benefits was wellness programs. The principal drawback of these programs is that too often the results take years to have any measurable impact, and most employers would prefer introducing programs into their benefits package that produce more than a handful of success stories.
Thankfully, new online tools are making waves in world of employer health plans. Healthcare Blue Book and Good-Rx are two popular examples of online tools employers and employees can embrace for minimal cost with measurable results.
Healthcare Blue Book allows consumers to shop for healthcare services like X-rays, MRI’s and other imaging tests, lab and blood work, surgical procedures, and a host of other services.
Using Blue Book takes minimal instruction. For example, entering the words “Chest MRI” into the search engine and your home zip code will show three levels of provider options: Green, Yellow, and Red.
This simple color coded ranking system (Green providers being the least costly, to Red providers being the most expensive) offers a level of transparency most employers and employees have craved for decades. Costs for services often vary by hundreds, even thousands, of dollars for the same services, depending on provider and location.
Employers can purchase access to Blue Book for their employees for less than $2.00 per-employee a month. Employees can download the app to their smart phones, tablets, laptops or PC’s, and access the information from anywhere.
When employees start to see the variances in cost among their local healthcare providers, they are given two valuable insights simultaneously. The first, that they can save themselves substantial out-of-pocket expenses on deductibles and coinsurance; especially if their plan deductible is high, or they have a Health Savings Account. Second, the level of transparency and comparative cost of services between providers is often a revelation for employees who have higher than average plan utilization.
Good-Rx is another site gaining steam among employers. The app costs nothing, and employees can search for the lowest cost on their prescriptions based on their zip code or current location. Here again, the application is simple to use, and can be accessed with just about any modern mobile device.
The beauty of both of these online tools is the low price point. Compared to traditional programs toted by brokers and insurers as pathways to lower plan costs, both Healthcare Blue Book and Good-Rx don’t ask employees to engage in behavior they are unaccustomed to, or use tools they are unfamiliar with.
If you have questions about how you can better utilize Healthcare Blue Book or Good-Rx for your employer sponsored health plan, contact Mark today for a free consultation.