Employers have started tying a few more strings to their healthcare benefits. What kind of strings are we likely to start seeing more often? Choosing which doctors and hospitals employees visit. Requiring second opinions before approving high cost procedures or treatments. Recommending telemedicine before an emergency room visit.
These and other requirements we've become accustomed to used to seem untenable. We feared employees would consider them an invasion of privacy or an intrusion on choice. But times keep changing - because costs keep rising. Employers pick up about 70 percent of the insurance tab for their workers. And costs have nearly tripled over the past 15 years. So it's not a question anymore of whether changes are coming. It’s a question of how to satisfy everyone’s needs with changes that are inevitable.
Ask a new question. How can we accomplish two things at once that used to be at odds with each other? First, gain better control over employer healthcare expenses. And second, provide a healthcare package that feels to employees like a real benefit and investment in their health?
Consider these 5 healthcare benefit strategies. They can keep your business healthy, wealthy and wise.
1. Design wellness incentives that focus on rewarding the first step. It's important to recognize the true role of incentives. It isn’t to create sustained health behavior change - they don't usually do the trick long-term. Instead, incentives should be used to attract employees into a wellness culture that can sustain healthy changes. Check out the joint consensus from the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association and other organizations offering guidelines for effective wellness programs. It describes incentives that improve health and lower cost. And the incentives work without making employees who need help feel like they are being discriminated against or penalized.
2. Personalize healthcare messages the right way. Lots of us need help to get started and stay on track with healthy habits. Show someone you know where they’re coming from with encouraging messages that support each step of their progress. That will help keep them motivated in the right direction. The evidence-based Healthstat Lifestyle Management System delivers highly tailored and individualized messages onto a user’s phone or computer. Program designers report the most frequent user comment, “I felt the messages were created just for me.”
3. Create a work environment that supports efforts to be healthy. A rising tide carries all ships. When you create a healthy culture and work environment, people get on board. The easier it is for people to feel included, the more engaged they are likely to be. Give positive recognition to employees who show leadership in preventing and managing chronic illness. It creates a ripple effect, along with a sense of pride in working for an employer who cares.
4. Help employees navigate the healthcare system. Negotiating with a preferred network of providers can create substantial savings. It can also create a lot of resentment if people consider access to their choice of providers sacrosanct. Don't leave employees feeling like you've taken away their choice and just don't care. Healthstat trains its onsite providers to act as care coordinators and patient advocates. Employees grow to trust their Healthstat providers. They appreciate having a knowledgeable advisor to help them navigate the complex healthcare system. Healthstat focuses on evidence-based, quality care. This allows employees to feel more comfortable with the continuity of care they can access within their network.
5. Be proactive in your outreach and close gaps in care. About half of people who have chronic diseases don’t get all the care they need. The right care at the right time in the right setting saves money for everyone. More importantly, it also leads to better health outcomes. Healthstat and its specially designed GapBusters™ program deliver healthcare that is convenient, effective, life-changing and affordable. And as Ralph Waldo Emerson taught us, “Health is the first wealth.”