2020 was crazy on so many fronts for everyone, and unfortunately until the vaccine gets fully distributed and people get vaccinated, restrictions will probably continue for a while. I don’t know how your organization was affected this past year, but I’m guessing it’s safe to say that it was – in some way, shape, or form.

Understandably, businesses have had to focus on so many things this past year and as such, health insurance has been at the bottom of the list. I’ve spoken to many businesses over the last 9 to 10 months who are simply trying to keep their doors open or trying to find ways to keep their workers healthy and safe. Many have had to implement extraordinary measures just to bring their employees back to work. And there are many businesses who still have employees working remotely and will continue to do so indefinitely.

There are obvious challenges bringing employees back to their physical plants and offices as well as trying to manage those who are working remotely, so management has had its hands full adapting to these changes and modifications. Many companies have taken a hit financially either in lost revenue, reduced profit margins, or losses due to supply train reductions. Reduced employee workforce, layoffs, leaves of absence, etc. make it more challenging.

As you have probably read or even experienced, the mental health of workers and their families has also taken its toll. Whether it’s due to the loss of a job, isolation, lack of social interaction, it is become a real problem. During late June, 40% of U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse to the CDC.

  • 31% reported anxiety or depression symptoms.
  • 13% started or increased substance abuse.
  • 26% reported trauma or stress-related disorder symptoms
  • And 11% say they seriously considered suicide.

Notwithstanding complications, treatment and costs for mental health, expectations are that costs and utilization for all medical claims are going to climb in 2021 for several reasons:

  • Several months ago the AMA reported that hospitals across the country would lose $340 billion due to nonelective and non-essential procedures, testing, screenings etc. being postponed because of the pandemic, and the thought that all of our hospitals were going to be overrun with COVID related patients. In most areas the country this did not occur.
      • As a result, expectations are that hospitals will be raising their prices dramatically in 2021 to make up for those losses.
  • Elective procedures and testing have resumed after a hiatus last year. Utilization is expected to increase dramatically as those patients who postponed their procedures due to COVID will now have those services in 2021 as facilities began to welcome their patients.
  • Additional cost of care needed by those with chronic conditions whose medical conditions are further complicated by their lack of care in 2020. I recently read an article where many cancer patients have altogether eliminated their screenings in 2020, thus relating in complications and advanced care and cost due to the lack of detection and treatment.
  • Increasing use of high cost Specialty Drugs. This continues to be a significant cost for many companies, who have no solution for it. New drugs are coming on the market all the time and less you have a source to obtain these other than your current pharmacy program, your costs are going to escalate dramatically.

If you want to flatten the curve of increasing medical costs, 2021 is the year to do so. The evaluation of your health plan is a relatively simple exercise – contrary to what your broker or consultant may have otherwise told you. It’s more than simply shopping your current plan with another insurance company. What it is about is challenging the status quo and adapting to new innovative programs that can produce significant reductions in cost, all the while providing better benefits for the employees. After all, isn’t it always a balancing act between cost and employee goodwill?

If you want to learn more about other opportunities to lower costs you can reach me at frank.stichter@strategichpc.com or give me a call at 970 – 349 – 7707.