By Kate Hubben, Vice President, NFP

With a national labor shortage, it’s more important than ever to protect the quality of your employee benefit plans to attract and retain employees.  For a non-profit organization, those stakes can be even higher because you have to consider a board of directors, a philanthropic mission, public funders, your employees and a limited budget.  In order to accomplish this, the human resource teams, who are likely already overwhelmed, will need to work smarter, not harder.

First, consider a consortium to increase your purchasing power.

A consortium is a multi-group arrangement that can be fully-insured or self-funded and allows groups the advantage of volume purchasing, more predictable renewals and full visibility to claims information.  A local chamber of commerce, an affinity organization or common ownership structure can be the foundation for a consortium.  For social service agencies that qualify, my firm has a consortium called the Aging and Disabilities Health Alliance (ADHA) that has cut trend inflation in half.   Make sure to ask your broker to consider a consortium and find out about average renewal increases, contract stipulations for entering or exiting the consortium, access to claims data and the availability of value-add programs like an EAP or a wellness platform.

Second, target the claim costs that are driving up premiums.

Human resource teams spend time and resources to organize walking groups, Weight Watcher meetings and “Lunch and Learn” programming which can help morale, but likely will not reduce your claims.  On the other hand, adherence to disease management protocols and getting your employees to see a primary care physician will.  Invest in solutions laser focused on chronic conditions like Diabetes, GI conditions or Musculoskeletal—they are in the marketplace.  Find out what your claims are and go after it.  Create incentive programs for employees to see a primary care physician.  You can be falsely comforted by a low medical loss ratio only to discover that your employees are not going to the doctor at all.  Unfortunately, this does not end well.   Your employees can miss early detection of diseases which end in acute events that can be very expensive.

And finally, keep an open mind to change.

Start thinking about your renewal nine or ten months ahead and lean on your broker to provide innovative ideas EARLY.  You could consider a narrow medical network for a less expensive alternative for your employees, or maybe reduce pharmacy redundancy by limiting ‘first time fills’ for a drug.  What if the drug does not work and now you have 88 pills left?  You can also seek out programs that bundle common medical procedures to reduce costs.  Being a good steward of your healthcare dollars requires heavy lifting and can be uncomfortable, but as a former non-profit employee myself, we are built to do it.

Kate Hubben
Vice President
Kate’s Bio