5 employee benefits trends to cut healthcare costs in 2018

As leading U.S. companies like Apple and Amazon prioritize employee wellbeing and work to update their healthcare offerings, employee benefits will need to evolve to better manage employee health and lower healthcare costs, according to BenefitsPro.

Here are five employee benefits trends employers can utilize to cut healthcare costs in 2018.

1. Offer competitive incentives. Although numerous employers are shifting to prize lotteries to meet health and wellness goals, cash in the form of insurance premium reductions, grocery store gift cards and health savings account contributions are becoming some of the most motivating incentives for employees to participate in health improvement programs, according to a recent study conducted by UnitedHealthcare.

2. Invest in mental healthcare. Health organizations received a "B" grade for mental wellness in the workplace, but leading health systems such as Cleveland Clinic are working to raise this grade and improve mental well-being in the workplace though short-term counseling programs available to employees and their family members. 

3. Harness wearable tech. Employers are integrating wearable fitness products into existing corporate health and wellness initiatives, including health coaching apps that allow employees to sync health and exercise data in real time.

4. Encourage telehealth visits. Employers can encourage telehealth and virtual care services, which healthcare providers are rapidly adopting, to continue increasing return on investment and decreasing out-of-pocket expenses for employees.

5. Offer onsite health clinics. Companies with onsite health clinics pay a fixed cost per member, who can receive on-demand care at lower out-of-pocket costs. The health plans created by wellness coaches are customized for individual members to encourage employee participation and reduce risk factors for expensive healthcare. For example, clients of Activate Healthcare see an average of $1.50 return for every dollar invested in the clinic, which cuts annual healthcare costs by up to 25 percent.

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