How Special Needs Support Can Reduce Healthcare costs

How to Reduce Healthcare Costs

Employers today are understandably concerned about rising healthcare costs. A 6.5% spike in expenses is projected for 2016, leading an estimated half of today's employers to invest heavily in wellness programs, all hoping to find the answer in improved employee health. But there's good reason to think there may be better places to look. Beyond merely creating a healthier employee through wellness programs, employers are wisely beginning to tackle the subject of effective use of resources.

Big chunks of budget, for example, have been known to get eaten up by employees heading to the ER for non-emergency problems, something attentive employers have effectively responded to by educating people better about what constitutes "urgent," and where to go for something smaller, such as the flu.

Reduce Healthcare Costs by Advocating for Children with Special Needs

But there's another area that should be getting employers' attention - parents advocating for children with special needs. Families navigating this territory often call it a veritable obstacle course or special needs labyrinth, with confusing rules and regulations hanging up their ability to understand, treat, and advocate for children. And the confusion is costly. MyEdGPS, an online platform that helps educate and guide people on finding help for children with such needs (learning issues or on the spectrum, for example), says that such dependents account for roughly half of a health plan's expenses even though they represent only 12% of people who use it. This falls in line with a new report showing that children's healthcare in general is getting more expensive. The Health Care Cost Institute shows that costs for children on employer-sponsored healthcare plans grew substantially in 2013, outpacing costs for the rest of the population. Caring for a child with special or exceptional needs is extraordinarily expensive, wrote myEdGPS founder Adam R. Goldberg in a blog about one family's struggle with the healthcare costs for their autistic son, Kevin.

Before myEdGPS, the family was paying upwards of $60,000 per year, primarily through insurance. After, they discovered they were using insurance to pay for services that were not only available in their public schools - but mandated. In fact, more than two thirds of children with special needs who begin receiving these services through schools do not pursue additional medical services.

Supporting Productivity and Employee Well-Being through an Effective Use of Healthcare Resources

Equally of note, these concerns impact more than just healthcare bills. The emotional costs of advocating for a child are equally substantial, weighing heavily on family relationships, marriages, and jobs. Parents in such situations are estimated to lose an average of 5 hours of work time per week. Like the ER example, this is an area where attentive employers can really have an impact. And those who want to make the case need only look at the numbers: special-needs students currently account for roughly 20% of dependent children. That means providing assistance such as myEdGPS to help parents figure out where to get the help they need offers substantial upside for both employees and parents. "It's time for a different type of intervention for the special needs labyrinth many working parents find themselves in," wrote Adam, "one that goes deeper in supporting hardworking parents while still protecting your bottom line."

With its unique approach to saving productivity and reducing healthcare costs while assisting employees, myEdGPS has provided powerful ROI to employers that use it. Bright Horizons Special Needs offers myEdGPS exclusively to organizations with more than 3,500 U.S. employees. Learn more about myEdGPS.

Written by: Lisa Oppenheimer

About the Author

Lisa Oppenheimer at Bright Horizons

As Director, Brand Storytelling at Bright Horizons, Lisa writes “from the trenches” about the real life challenges of people in today’s workplaces: from the tensions of being a working mother, to working with millennials in the digital age, and everything in between. With a career ranging from freelance to full-time, Lisa brings a diverse employment background to her perspective.