If you’re an HR or benefits manager, you know the health plan drill. Carefully balance benefits with costs. Compare various combinations of copays, deductible, and out-of-pocket maximums. Find the best plan that provides your employees the coverage they want at a cost management can tolerate. It’s a dance you do every open enrollment. But take heart. You may be able to lower costs by creating a company culture of wellness. That’s what Grange Insurance Association did.
Even Insurance Companies Need Insurance
Founded in White Salmon, Washington in 1893, Grange Insurance Association serves the insurance needs of farming families in six states. Headquartered in Seattle, Grange Insurance provides health coverage for its employees and their dependents, nearly 300 in total. However, the health of their workforce was cause for a change of culture.
A number of employees with pre-diabetic or diabetic conditions contributed to rising health care costs. So much so that the company’s carrier raised its rates to the point of being prohibitive. Come open enrollment, the Association sought a total replacement of their health plans with both HMO and PPO options. They also needed a carrier who would help improve employee health to mitigate the cost of high claims.
A Change of Culture, a Decrease in Costs
Grange chose a carrier (Group Health, now Kaiser Permanente) with multiple offerings, and then collaborated with them to bring about a company-wide transformation. The Association instituted biometric screenings, nutrition workshops, and employee education. Other efforts included an on-site gym, fitness classes, and healthy competitions. (See if your company culture needs a reboot.)
“Our Group Health sales contact pointed out that we could improve our costs using generic prescriptions, and urgent care and the nurse hotline instead of the emergency department,” said Vice president of Human Resources, Anne-Marie Killen-Gall. “It’s been a really effective partnership.”
Grange’s top-down support of healthy initiatives has paid off. For the last three years, the Association has held costs down, quite impressively in fact.