Employ­ee ben­e­fits are a major bar­gain­ing chip for com­pa­nies look­ing to attract tal­ent. The prob­lem is health­care costs are sky­rock­et­ing, and it’s dif­fi­cult for employ­ers to offer the same lev­el of cov­er­age. High­er costs are either result­ing in less cov­er­age or small­er wages for employees.

Find out what’s hap­pen­ing with health­care and recruit­ment, and get tips on what com­pa­nies can do to stay competitive:

The Rising Costs of Healthcare

It’s no secret that health­care costs have been increas­ing for years. Accord­ing to the research, it will con­tin­ue to increase. One study from the Peter­son Cen­ter on Health­care and the Kaiser Fam­i­ly Foun­da­tion (KFF) found that $3.8 trillion—or $11,582 per per­son— was spent on health­care in 2019. By 2028, indi­vid­ual Amer­i­cans will be spend­ing around $18,000 on healthcare.

While the issue is com­plex, experts agree that the major fac­tors in this spike include an aging pop­u­la­tion, a rise in chron­ic dis­ease, and high­er prices for med­ical ser­vices and drugs. Costs are ris­ing so rapid­ly that insur­ers are increas­ing deductibles, not cov­er­ing cer­tain ser­vices, or apply­ing caps. As a result, health­care pack­ages are play­ing a larg­er role when cho­sen can­di­dates are decid­ing whether to accept a new job.

How Important Are Competitive Healthcare Packages?

As health­care costs con­tin­ue to rise, a new debate has emerged. Should employ­ers or employ­ees take more respon­si­bil­i­ty for cov­er­ing healthcare?

One of two things are hap­pen­ing with work­place health­care. Either employ­ees are leav­ing their cur­rent posi­tion for a job with bet­ter health­care cov­er­age or their annu­al salary increas­es are being eat­en up by high­er health­care pre­mi­ums being passed on to employees.

A recent sur­vey found that 42% of employ­ees are think­ing about leav­ing their cur­rent posi­tion because of inad­e­quate benefits.

“The ris­ing price of health care costs fam­i­lies thou­sands of dol­lars a year in fore­gone wages, out-of-pock­et costs, and increased tax­es,” said Josh Bivens, research direc­tor at the Eco­nom­ic Pol­i­cy Insti­tute, in an inter­view with Mar­ket­Watch.

He said the effect may not be appar­ent, but it’s one of the main rea­sons wages have remained stag­nant. If you spot a num­ber of para­dox­es here, then you aren’t alone. Low­er salaries won’t attract top tal­ent, and pass­ing on the costs of health­care to cur­rent employ­ees won’t retain them. This quandary for employ­ers is com­pound­ed by the cur­rent labor short­age, which is often referred to as the Great Resignation.

What Can Companies Do?

It’s clear that health­care is impor­tant to job can­di­dates. To attract new tal­ent, com­pa­nies should rev­o­lu­tion­ize the way they treat well­ness in the workplace.

Pro­mot­ing health and well­ness ini­tia­tives not only improves employ­ee morale and decreas­es absen­teeism, but a health­i­er work­force is less like­ly to use their insur­ance. This may even­tu­al­ly equate to low­er premiums.

Anoth­er easy way to curb costs is by com­mu­ni­cat­ing with employ­ees about what plans are avail­able. Health insur­ance is often a com­plex top­ic, and some employ­ees may acci­den­tal­ly choose the wrong plan because they don’t under­stand the difference.

Proac­tive­ly high­light­ing avail­able ser­vices can assist employ­ees before a med­ical issue spins out of con­trol. Men­tal health ser­vices are an exam­ple of this. Let­ting employ­ees know about Employ­ee Assis­tance Pro­grams or low-cost tele­health options could offer help before a more seri­ous inter­ven­tion is needed.

There are many options avail­able for com­pa­nies to make their ben­e­fit pack­ages more com­pet­i­tive to attract top tal­ent. Some com­pa­nies are con­sid­er­ing Health Sav­ings Accounts or HSAs that help employ­ees pay med­ical bills while enrolled in cheap­er, high deductible plans.

Direct Pri­ma­ry Care is anoth­er tech­nique being used by com­pa­nies to con­trol costs. DPC allows employ­ees to pay fixed month­ly, quar­ter­ly, or annu­al fees to cov­er pri­ma­ry care, con­sul­ta­tions, care coor­di­na­tion, and com­pre­hen­sive care man­age­ment. Not only does DPC result in cost-sav­ings, but it fos­ters a bet­ter rela­tion­ship between patient and doctor.

Leveraging Your Benefits

Even though health­care costs con­tin­ue to rise, it’s pos­si­ble for com­pa­nies to con­trol costs by pro­mot­ing well­ness ini­tia­tives and help­ing employ­ees select the best ben­e­fit pack­age for their needs.

Being proac­tive with health­care and mak­ing smart finan­cial deci­sions can keep health­care prices rea­son­able, and ensure that com­pa­nies will be able to attract talent.

By Mcken­zie Cassidy

Orginal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network