A poorly designed plan can add cost, while also not protecting employees against the most serious medical risks. Here are some areas that can go 'off-track'.
"If I have it, I’m going to spend it."
Employees may be very careful with their own money, but the benefits plan feels like a no-cost entitlement. So, if they were paying for their own dental care they might schedule two cleanings per year, but because the company will cover it, they’ll sit in that hygienist’s chair four times.
"But my therapist said that massages are important."
Paramedical services such as chiropractic massage, massage therapy, and physiotherapy are increasing as a percentage of benefit costs. Three of the fastest-growing categories are massage therapy for teenagers, infant chiropractic in hopes of improving sleep, and preventive chiropractic. These treatments may have some efficacy, but generally if the employees were paying those costs out of pocket, they wouldn’t make as many visits.
"I don’t want to miss out."
Many employees feel inclined to spend all the benefits that they can, from the view that if they don’t, they’re missing something they’re entitled to. So some will select more expensive eyeglass frames than they need, just to make sure they top out the amount they’re entitled to in a given year.
"Prescription drugs cost how much?”
Spiralling drug costs are also a growing concern of many employers. So they take the apparently reasonable step of capping prescription drug costs, while leaving other parts of their plan unchanged.
This works … but it’s much like using a hammer on a mosquito. The problem gets solved, but it can expose your employees to catastrophic expenses that they may not be able to afford. Better to tackle the expenses in a health plan in other ways!