Health & Medical

From the Editor: Facing some tough budget decisions? Be transparent

From the Editor: Facing some tough budget decisions? Be transparent thumbnail

We’ve arrived in the fourth quarter, a time when companies and organizations of all sizes are finalizing strategic plans and budgets for 2023. After reporting some pretty dismal results so far this year, hospitals are trying to boost revenue and wring what savings they can from the expense side of the ledger before the annual tallying starts.

It’s a time of uncertainty throughout all layers of an organization, and that sense of the unknown is greater this year because of economic headwinds. Rising interest rates and recession fears are now part of the same conversations as labor issues, higher costs and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Priorities are shifting at insurers, health systems and other providers and, as a result, at all the companies that do business with them.

It’s also the time of year when employers and consumers are making decisions of their own about healthcare in 2023. Insurers are facing higher costs as a result of the pandemic. Employers negotiating with insurance companies are having to make some tough calls in terms of the plans they offer and the size of the premium increases they are passing along.

Individuals and families are mulling their choices, whether it’s selecting an option from an employer-sponsored plan, an ACA exchange plan or one of the myriad Medicare Advantage plans being marketed so aggressively. 

I’m casting a ballot for how I hope organizations handle these situations. I vote for transparency.

If you’re a healthcare system channeling financial resources from one area to another, explain why to your workforce and give as much notice as possible to affected employees, especially those who may have to leave. Clinical roles are much in demand, but administrative employees might have a tougher time finding the next opportunity in a jittery economy.

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If you’re part of a management team devising ways to engage and retain employees, include them in the discussions. And if some ambitious ideas are getting put on hold, let them know. One survey after another has indicated workers don’t want another pizza party. Research released by consultancy Bain & Co. last week found 25% of clinicians are considering changing careers, and 33% are thinking about going to work somewhere else. 

And if you’re an employer about to wallop workers with higher premiums, copays or lesser-quality health plans, do the math for them about the cost of insurance today.

In all these cases, the people on the receiving end may not like the facts. But they’ll appreciate the transparency and honesty.

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