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How will COVID-19 impact your health benefit plan costs?

As we move from crisis control to considering how we operate with coronavirus for the foreseeable future, employers are addressing the economic impact on health benefit plans. Here are some steps you can take:

Understand actuarial projections related to COVID-19 for your specific health plan. Here are some top line findings from Milliman (click here for 2020 report and here for 2021 report):

  • If COVID-19 results in delayed care through June 2020, the net reduction in healthcare costs will be $140-$375 billion nationally. If care is delayed through year end, the net reduction could be $75-$575 billion nationally.
  • 2021 projections differ based on whether or not another wave of the virus results in continued social distancing and deferral of care, if yes, then experience may be similar to 2020 with additional COVID-19 costs being offset by deferred or forgone care. However, if providers demand price increases to make-up for lost revenue in 2020 ,f there is a rush for services due to pent-up demand, and continuation of high COVID-19 treatment costs, 2021 could see significant cost increases.

Remember that if employees have already met their deductible in 2020 they may seek to get delayed care this year, minimizing their out-of-pocket expenses.

Use a dashboard to track trends for complications and downstream costs due to forgone care for those with chronic disease and delayed preventive care, including cancer screening. Include benefits and reminders that can rapidly get them into the care they need. MBGH is using a diabetes dashboard with members this year. Members can email Cristie Travis for a copy.

Remind employees of critical chronic care management and preventive services they need to pay attention to when doctors offices open back up. Refer them to their benefit plan and wellbeing programs for recommendations and coverage.

Consider adding or reinforce existing benefits to support employees in getting the most appropriate treatment for conditions such as hip/knee surgery, lower back surgery, hysterectomy, weight loss surgery. Consider a second opinion benefit if you don't already have one. Delayed elective treatments may have exacerbated physical problems and employees may be seeking immediate care that, at times, may not be the best option. 

Click here to check out the National Alliance's webinar recording and slide deck for the Employer Town Hall on COVID-19: Financial Impact of COVID-19

Posted by Cristie Travis at 9:34 PM

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