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7 Best Practices for Better Self-Funded Health Benefits
By Melina Kambitsi, Ph.D., senior vice president, business development and strategic marketing, The Alliance

When employers self-fund their employee health benefit plans, they have access to a wealth of data. Fully-funded plans typically do not allow this.

But the key to a successful self-funded health benefits plan is to use the trends found in the data to create steerage programs and employee communications that will help lower costs and create better health outcomes. This was the lesson learned by a Wisconsin manufacturer.

After the manufacturer’s first year of self-funding, they determined a need to create innovative approaches to their health benefits. This included how they communicate with their employees. After five years of self-funding, they shared their experiences with The Alliance to help create the following list of best practices.

Best Practices for Employers with Self-Funded Health Benefits
  1. Get ready to self-fund. Do your research and have innovative solutions ready to address current health care challenges when you launch your self-funded health benefits. Employees will notice a positive difference, quickly.
  2. Be willing to change. Employers get the best results by combining self-funding with data-driven changes in their health plan.
  3. Develop a team of collaborators, internally and externally. Internally, create a team of employees who take responsibility for changing the health plan to focus on high-value health care. Externally, network with peers at other companies and then find vendor partners who are interested in working with you on innovative solutions. Your relationships will make a difference in what you achieve.
  4. Make sure partners have aligned incentives. They should “win” financially when your company wins and lose when it loses.
  5. Tell employees how self-funding makes a difference to their out-of-pocket costs. Explaining the relationship between the company’s costs and their health benefit premiums is a great place to start.
  6. Remind employees of ways to save, again and again. Sharing information at open enrollment is critical, but employees also need reminders throughout the year. If you have an onsite clinic, make sure clinic providers know all the current options for employees to use programs such as Centers of Excellence.
  7. Use employers’ combined power. Employers’ ability to change how they purchase health care grows when they work together.
Searching for more ways to increase the value of your employee health benefits? Learn more about influencing the quality and cost of health care at our Sept. 26, 2019 event on High-Value Health Care for employers at The Monona Terrace in Madison, Wis.
 
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