Part 2 – How to reduce your premiums without taking benefits away

3 min read

In part 1 of this blog, we shared some creative ways on how to reduce premiums without taking benefits away from your employees. The strategies that we discussed included the introduction of a wellness program, fine tuning your drug plan, and the use of healthcare spending accounts.

Read more about additional cost containment options available to employers in Saskatchewan:

1. Reduce premiums with Virtual Healthcare over the long term

Virtual Health care may not directly impact the cost of the benefit plan, but it certainly could contribute to employees taking less time away from work to visit a physician.  Our recent blog on virtual healthcare care outlines both public and private options available to employers in Saskatchewan when it comes to virtual care. We are seeing a great uptake in virtual health programs during COVID-19 with employers of all sizes.

2. Reduce premiums on Dental benefits 

Dental claims are on the rise for many employers in Saskatchewan. One of the causes of higher dental usage is the ever-increasing marketing done by the dental industry. 

Educating employees about dental services can result in better, more informed choices. Unfortunately, dental benefits can accumulate very quickly. Even small tweaks to your dental plan design can make a big difference in the overall cost. Let’s taka a closer look at dental recall frequency, scaling units, and fee guides.

In recent years, recall frequency for dental checkups has progressed from 12 months, down to 6 months. Not everyone requires a checkup every 6 months. According to Canadian Dental Association, exam frequency depends on each individual’s oral health needs. A 9 month recall is another popular and more cost conscious option to consider.

Another important part of any dental plan is the scaling units. “Scaling units” refer to the time the dentist spends scaling patient’s teeth. Scaling is the process of removing plaque either manually or by using ultrasonic instruments. One unit of scaling is equal to 15 minutes of service. Employees should ask the hygienist how many scaling units they used in the cleaning procedure, and ensure that is what they are charged for.  

Lastly, it’s important to pay attention to fee guides. Carriers reimburse dental benefits based on the provincial fee guide. Some dentists will charge more than what the fee guide specifies, in which case the employee is responsible for the additional cost.  

3. Longer Waiting Periods for new employees

Employee turnover can have a significant impact on Health & Dental claims.   A 3 month waiting period for new employees to come onto the benefit plan is quite standard.  However, if your business is in an industry where there is lot of turnover, perhaps a 6 month waiting period may make more sense

4. Life and Disability Insurance: definitions can reduce premiums

Demographics are the main driver of the costs of Life insurance and Disability benefits.  Most clients tend to just accept the disability benefits as whatever their carrier or their advisor puts forward.

However, it may be possible to make adjustments within the definitions of the disability benefits that could have a positive effect on your premiums. It’s important to ensure that both you and your employees understand the details of your group disability policy. Even small changes could affect an employee who becomes disabled. Our recent article titled Employer-Sponsored Disability Benefits – What You Should Know  has more information on this topic

5. Cost Sharing Arrangements and Employee Education

Cost sharing of the benefit plan with employees can have a positive impact on reducing your benefit premiums. An example of a cost sharing arrangement is when employees are responsible for a percentage of their premiums. For example: employees pay 50% of the cost of health benefits via regular payroll deductions.  Along with that, educate your employees on how the premiums are affected by claims, and what decisions employees can personally make to help with controlling claims costs.

Be a smart consumer when it comes to health benefits

Employers that want to reduce premiums without taking benefits away should focus on strategies that help drive employee behaviour. For employees, it’s important to be a smart consumer when it comes to your benefits plan. A regular and detailed review of your employee benefits plan will help identify your company’s cost drivers and help keep your premiums under control.

We are here to help employers in Saskatchewan make the most of their benefit plans, especially during this difficult time. We’d love to help you review your plan and identify opportunities that could help your business reduce your benefits costs without necessarily taking benefits away from your staff. Get in touch with us to learn more.