The Benefit of company Benefits
When Brewster Ambulance Service first began offering benefits, their team roster topped at seven people. Since then, the Brewster team has grown over 12,000% and the company stands as the largest private EMS provider in Boston. However, this growth would now have been possible without a strong team of caring, experienced professionals dedicated to serving with pride and excellence.
Providing ample training, resources, equipment, support and access to information are critical success factors for any member of the team. Part of creating an environment conducive to success and wellness includes robust benefits plans for the team and their families.
Employees are a company's greatest asset - they're your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company's mission.
—Anne M. Mulcahy, former Chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation
Leveraging technology to save costs
In the early days of Brewster's benefits management when new team members were hired, the benefits packages were set up manually during annual enrollment periods. Now, for a new team member to set up their benefits plan, they use a proprietary software system designed to help them build a profile and select their preferred plan online. They can review the two benefit plans offered, compare and select which they prefer to be enrolled in, and submit their enrollment. The system also allows for customization to Brewster Ambulance's team plans and data.
Reducing High Utilization to Save Costs
In the Smart Business article, "How managing ER use can lower health care costs without reducing benefits," Sue Ostrowski writes:
From 1996 to 2006, the annual number of U.S. emergency room visits grew from 90.3 million to 119.2 million, and from 34.2 to 40.5 visits per 100 residents. So, look at emergency room usage and other high utilization data points to identify trends. By focusing on those areas, you can ultimately have an impact.
Utilization of high-cost health care services has a direct impact on a health care plan's cost to a company. For example, a covered individual who chooses to use a 24-hour nurse hotline or visit an urgent care center instead of the local emergency room for care is opting for a lower cost health care service—lowering high-cost utilization—which translates into reduced plan rates for the company. This allows companies to potentially offer more benefits, reduce deductibles or make other cost-saving benefits that are ultimately passed on to those receiving benefits.
New England Private Industry Medical Care Benefits
What the above data signifies is that in New England, 69% of private industry employees have access to medical care benefits. Of that 69%, only 48% of those people are actually utilizing their company's benefits packages.
Share of Premiums paid by Employer and Employee for single coverage
Employers still carry the burden of the cost of providing medical benefits plans to their employees. This is why utilization of benefits by employees is critical to keeping costs low so the quality of the benefits offered can remain high. (For family coverage, the ratio is Employer: 68% and Employee: 32%.)
Wellness Plans and Better Utilization to Save Costs
In addition to increasing hourly wages and other compensation benefits, in 2015 Brewster Ambulance improved the quality and amount of benefits offered to our team with the goal of being a leader in recognizing the value of providing the best wages and benefits in the industry. The new benefits package was developed based on how our team used their benefits, cost of ownership and options most requested.
This team benefit enhancement initiative was first implemented in early 2015 when the company changed dental and health care providers and added an industry-leading 401k program with company match. The improved health care provided better quality coverage and more options. More importantly, the company raised its contribution, reducing the individual's cost for coverage and included:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance
- AFLAC insurance
- Dental insurance
- 401K program for added earnings
Wellness plans that can also help save costs include these benefits:
- Accident and critical illness coverage
- A 24-hour nurse telemedicine hotline
- Prescriptions from 24-hour service called into your pharmacy
- Health and wellness tips and resources to improve preventative care
Providing Quality Benefits While Saving Costs
Brewster is committed to remaining competitive and retaining the best workforce. Offering a cost-effective benefits program to our team is a critical factor in building the infrastructure to support a strong team of performers ready to take on any EMS challenge.