Family speaking with doctor

Helping Your Employees Navigate Rising Healthcare Costs

02/05/2024 Written by: AP Employee Benefits

For many employers, supporting their employees' navigation of the healthcare system has become a growing area of focus. As employees try to manage rising healthcare costs, they look to their employers for support in helping them understand their plan and care options. According to a recent survey conducted by Accolade, employees who found the navigation of the healthcare system to be stressful were more likely to delay or avoid seeking care altogether. In this blog post, we will explore some ways that employers are working to bridge the knowledge gap that exists for most employees in their role as healthcare consumers.

Communication is Key

Regular communication with your employees can help ensure they are aware of the options available to them as they navigate their healthcare journey. Providing resources that detail plan benefits through multiple channels including emails, company intranet portals, printed materials, workshops and videos can provide a consistent message from their employer. These communications shouldn't be a one-off campaign tied to annual open enrollment but regularly promoted throughout the year as part of your employee engagement strategy. For employers with hybrid or remote workers, prioritize communication methods that ensure all employees receive the same important messaging, such as via webinars or recorded videos.

As a health plan sponsor, employers can advise employees to shop around for their healthcare needs, just as they would shop around for other products or services. Price transparency and network navigation tools can be a great resource for employees to leverage when weighing their healthcare options, allowing employees to compare pricing across providers for services including imaging, preventative screenings, and other procedures. While providing access to these tools is a positive step towards empowering your employees to take control of their healthcare costs, employers must also provide guidance and training demonstrating the most effective ways to utilize these helpful tools.

The Importance of Primary Care

Employees who have established a strong relationship with their primary care provider are more likely to prevent minor health issues from escalating and catch new conditions early. Primary care providers provide a baseline for the state of the employee’s health while helping establish future health goals and develop a long-term plan to manage conditions. The National Institutes of Health recently reported that on average, each primary care visit is associated with a total reduction of $721 per patient per year in total patient care costs, with the first primary care visit resulting in an average cost reduction of $3,976. By encouraging your employees to establish regular care with a primary care physician, you can expect to see a reduced overall cost of healthcare and improved outcomes.

Virtual and Home Care Opportunities

The growing utilization of virtual care has paved the way for employees to gain access to more convenient and affordable healthcare. The use of tele-mental health services has significantly increased as more organizations begin to offer this benefit to their employees. Virtual care options can be seamlessly integrated into an organization's current benefit plan offerings, enabling employees to access care when and where they need it. While access to quality care is a tremendous benefit of telehealth services, the cost savings of virtual care for both employees and employers are significant and should not be overlooked. When reviewing your health plan claims experience data, pay particular attention to the prevalence of such claims as urgent care, emergency room, and mental health visits. With the appropriate employee engagement strategy, many of these claim costs can be reduced through the utilization of low or no cost telemedicine platforms, yielding savings for both employer and employee.

While some employees may be hesitant to utilize virtual care options due to security concerns, employers can help ease their minds when it comes to their privacy. Many providers offering digital platforms have implemented enhanced security measures that comply with HIPAA regulations to ensure that patient data is secure. Communicating these enhanced security measures can help increase adoption and build trust in virtual care.

Healthcare navigation is an increasingly important priority for HR teams – one that demonstrates that the organization values its employees and is actively trying to ease their financial burdens. Your local AssuredPartners team can partner with you to evaluate your current employee engagement strategy and identify potential areas of opportunity for education, disruption, and savings.

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