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How to incentivize your employees to make cost-effective health care choices

Even a great benefits plan won’t serve your business to its full potential if your employees aren’t using the tools provided to them. Employers have a wealth of opportunities to improve their business and their employees’ experience if they adopt an innovative plan, but the efficacy of these tools rely on employee engagement. Incentivizing your employees to be active participants in their benefits plan maximizes their experience as patients while helping the business save money and grow.

Here’s how you can engage your employees to make educated and effective decisions within their plan.

Pass on the savings

Convincing an employee to make a decision that helps their employer win is much easier when the employee wins, too. A study by Blue Cross Blue Shield found that knee surgeries in the United States cost an average of $31,124. However, cost variations are so extreme that the same surgery could cost significantly less (or more) depending on the region. By offering your employee a $3,500 bonus for driving sixty miles to a location that charges $15,000 for the same surgery while offering the same quality care, you could potentially save over $12,500.

By passing on the rewards to your employees, you give them a reason to go out of their way to lower costs for you without putting their own care at risk. In many cases, this can actually lead to a better experience overall for the employee.

Make quality care more convenient

In order to improve the patient experience, the accessibility of high-quality care is just as important as its availability. A study published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS) found that over 20 percent of medical procedures were potentially unnecessary, adding up to what the Institute of Medicine estimates to be $210 billion in wasted medical expenses per year.

Many patients could avoid invasive and expensive procedures by asking other doctors for alternative options, but a 2005 Gallup poll found that 49 percent of patients “never” seek a second opinion, while only 3 percent of patients “always” do. Offering an automatic second opinion option–in which a doctor reviews a patient’s records and gives them an opinion online –serves to help you and your employees in multiple ways:

  • Convenience – Rather than taking time off work and losing wages to visit another doctor, your employees can get an opinion from a licensed medical professional in minutes without having to leave work or home.
  • Lower costs – Not only is a digital consultation cheaper than an in-person visit, but avoiding a surgery in favor of options like physical therapy can save you and your employee thousands of dollars.
  • Peace of mind – If a more expensive procedure is necessary, your employees can rest easy knowing that their choice is supported by multiple doctors instead of just one.

Offering an automatic second opinion requires little to no work from your employees while offering the possibility of eliminating an expensive medical claim.

Put their health care in their hands

The key to getting your employees to engage more with their benefits plan isn’t to force them in one direction, but to offer them multiple options so they can take control of their own benefits. This not only makes them feel empowered, but also lets them know that you, as their employer, are looking out for their best interests.

Some areas in which you can give your employees more authority in their plan are:

  • Type of clinic – Do they want to have their knee surgery done at an expensive hospital, or do they want to have it done at an outpatient surgery center and have their employer cover their copay?
  • Distance – Do they want to have their operation done inside their own city, or would they be willing to travel to a country that offers the procedure for a third of the cost and allows them to recover in a nice hotel by the beach?
  • Face-to-face interaction – Is their need to see a doctor in person for a cough so great that they’re willing to drive to and from the clinic and sit in the waiting room, or would they prefer to do the consultation online?

The more you involve your employees with the choices available in their benefits plan, the more likely they are to make informed choices that give more to themselves and your business.

Engaged employees, educated solutions

Giving your employees cash, convenience, and choices can help give them the incentive they need to help you make the most out of your benefits plan. Educating your workers about the options they have and then empowering them to make decisions that are better for them and the company can transform your benefits package from a plan into a strategic tool to help your business grow.


This article was written by Emily Payne from BenefitsPro and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to