Research shows health care costs are slowing. Will the trend continue?

There’s good news on the health insurance cost front: According to a recently released employer health benefits survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, health costs for employers increased only 3 percent last year. And it’s the second straight year the growth rate has slowed, according to Kaiser.

Zahoor ElahiGet the full story in this article that recently appeared in the Washington Post. Like the author of the article, we’re cautiously optimistic about this slowdown and are eager to see if it continues in 2015 and 2016.

There are things your organization can do to piggyback on this trend and continue the momentum.

  • Encourage health ownership in your workplace. The more involved employees are in their health, the more motivated they may be to be healthy. Advanced analytics and engagement capabilities like those offered by Optum can raise an individual’s awareness of health issues and reward them for behaviors that support health.
  • Offer a health savings account (HSA ) qualifying high deductible health plan and encourage eligible employees to open HSAs. This health plan and account combination encourages employees to be more in control of their health care behaviors and choices while accessing tax-advantaged savings.
  • Promote smart treatment selection. More than ever, consumers are able to compare cost and service offered by various health care providers. Many health plans offer cost estimators that make it easy to compare hospital and doctor rates and determine out-of-pocket costs. Encourage your employees to access these tools to make wise health care decisions.

After years of escalating health care costs, it’s encouraging to see a slowdown. We’ll be watching closely to see if it continues.

Zahoor Elahi, senior vice president, Product, Optum Financial Services

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