It’s that time of year again – renewal time for your employee health benefits plan is looming. You’ll be asked to sign on the dotted line and renew your plan for the upcoming year. Your employee benefits provider is your partner on the renewal journey, so they should be taking the lead on this process. But you should get prepared too.
The first step in preparing for renewal time is to look at how you think your employee benefits program worked for you and your company during the past year. If you have questions or concerns, now is the time to conference with your provider to get answers and make changes if needed.
If the benefits plan is set up correctly at the start, then renewal time shouldn’t require many changes nor have any surprises. Why? Because the right provider checks in with you on plan performance throughout the year.
Three areas to focus on
At renewal time, whether you’re making some changes to your plan or considering new approaches, there are some areas that deserve special attention during the process.
1. Cost Control
The first thing that deserves special attention before signing off on your employee benefits renewal form is cost control. Is cost control an integral part of your plan? Are there built-in strategies to target cost drivers while still supporting employees?
These are important questions because cost control is an essential element in protecting the sustainability of your employee benefits plan. It’s especially important as benefit costs are expected to rise in the coming year.
You’re already on the right track to control costs if you’re putting effort into supporting mental health and encouraging employees to pursue a healthy lifestyle; but you might also need to directly target costs. For example, you can target prescription drug costs. You might do that by introducing a Smart Rx Solution. Smart Rx Solutions involve working with a central dispensing pharmacy and/or covering lower cost (but equally effective) drugs.
Or perhaps it’s time to target disability claim costs. This could mean including disability management services as part of your plan. These services help reduce the length of disability claims, while also supporting employees.
If there are other pain areas in your claims experience, then your provider should present cost control solutions, not just excuses. Regardless of which cost control mechanisms are right for your company, the important thing is to review the presence of cost control before you go ahead and sign your renewal.
2. Mental Health
The importance of supporting the mental health of your employees can’t be overstated. As renewal time approaches, look at your plan and your company and ensure both are well-equipped to provide support.
Mental health challenges are one of the leading causes of disability claims, and they also affect productivity and absenteeism & presenteeism. The mental health of your employees can have a big impact on your company’s success.
A progressive employee health benefits plan should have multiple ways to support mental health. You must have the more direct and obvious mental health supports (like coverage for clinical counselling services or coverage to visit a psychologist), but you’ll need to do more.
Including access to an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) helps take it a step further. An Employee and Family Assistance Program provides 24/7 support and easy access to counselling; this removes some of the barriers employee face by making it easy to make that first call to get help.
There are also less obvious ways to support the mental health of your employees. You’ll have to work at creating an atmosphere in your organization where mental health challenges aren’t stigmatized. Educate employees about mental health and the resources available and train managers to recognize when someone is struggling, so they can provide support.
As renewal approaches, take some time to evaluate whether your employee benefits plan effectively supports your employees in pursuing a healthy lifestyle. Usually referred to as “wellness,” supporting your employees in pursuing a healthy lifestyle can have many positive impacts on your company and your benefits plan. Wellness is a form of preventative medicine; healthy employees have fewer claims, less presenteeism and a reduced number of absences. This is good for business!
One of the ways you can incorporate wellness into your employee benefits plan is to include a Wellness Spending Account. A Wellness Spending Account works like a bank account; you deposit a certain amount of money for the employee to use towards eligible wellness expenses and the employee is reimbursed until the account is depleted.
Eligible expenses may include things like gym memberships, yoga classes, running shoes and ski passes: basically anything that encourages employees to get active or nourish their mental health.
Ensuring your plan includes benefits that encourage your employees to pursue a healthy lifestyle helps prevent health challenges and increase productivity.
Good Advice is Key
With renewal time approaching, now is the time to set your company up for success in the new year. When it comes to employee health benefits, preparation now will mean an easy renewal next year. Explore your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.
Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefits packages that work as hard as you do.