If your job is covering the world of startups and small businesses, you could be tempted to ignore Deloitte's recently released survey of 96 CFOs. Especially once you read that 79 percent of the respondents are from companies exceeding $1-billion in annual revenue.
As it happens, the survey revealed something that small business owners can learn from: How all of these CFOs are reducing their health care costs. These tips, at the very least, can serve as timely provocations when it comes to employee benefits costs, especially with many provisions of the Affordable Care Act coming into effect at the start of 2015.
Employees Are Paying More
So, how are these CFOs curbing healthcare costs? Here are two tactics cited in the Deloitte report.
1. Employees paying more. Fifty-seven percent of companies have passed on costs to employees or will do so in 2014. The higher costs break down like this: premium contributions (74 percent), increased deductibles (72 percent), and increased copays (49 percent).
The takeaway: If you have the margins to keep benefits costs flat, you can justifiably brag in your recruiting efforts about being a company that puts employees first. If you must increase your benefits costs, then consider how the increase would be least felt by you and your employees. For example, a young staff might be more amenable to increased deductibles if their premiums stay the same. Also, the traditional advice here applies: Be proactive with your insurance brokers. They are likely to have some suggestions for reducing costs without making it hurt your employees too badly. If they don't, remember: There are always other brokers who'd love your business.
2. Health and wellness programs. Fifty-two percent of the companies have implemented them, and another 20 percent plan to do so in 2014.
The takeaway: Make sure implementing a wellness program will actually save you and your employees some money. It's not a sure thing. For example, a recent study of PepsiCo's program revealed that the program saved money for employees who already had chronic illnesses. But for healthy employees, costs barely decreased. Another way to look at this lesson: Make sure the wellness program is tailored to the health needs (and, therefore, health costs) of your workforce. Cost, of course, is not the only reason to implement a program like this. But if it's a big reason for you, make sure to sweat the savings details.