According to the 2013 Milliman Medical Index, annual medical costs for a family of four are now higher than a year of groceries. And you likely feel the pressure: at home and at work.
As you’re thinking about how to drive health ownership among employees, it’s important to focus not just on physical and behavioral health but also on financial health. Consumers may be making a less-than-optimal choice 46% of the time when faced with a health decision1 not just because they don’t understand the best choice. They may also be making a less-than-optimal choice because they can’t afford a better one.
When talking about health ownership, we encourage employers to focus on three steps:
- Boost participation through outcomes-based incentives.
- Facilitate smart choices via financial accounts and tools.
- Contribute to employees health savings accounts (HSAs)
Boosting participation can include a wide range of initiatives, from onsite health specialists and fitness facilities to 24/7 access to nurses and wellness coaches via phone. It can also involve targeted events and preventive services, such as biometric screenings, health assessments and flu clinics.
Yet how can employers help facilitate smart financial choices? The short answer is two-fold: help employees understand the cost of care, and help them save for medical expenses. By understanding how costs can vary from physician to physician and from hospital to hospital, employees can shop around just like they would for a new appliance or vehicle. Yet we all know the lowest prices aren’t necessarily the smartest choice. That’s why it’s important to include quality ratings and outcomes information and provide access to Centers of Excellence.
The second part of driving smart financial choices has become increasingly important as employers have moved to consumer-driven health plans. These plans won’t work as intended if employees can’t afford their high-deductibles and co-insurance. Health savings accounts (HSAs) can be the answer — if they’re promoted correctly. Offering an HSA is no longer enough. Employers need to educate employees about the long-term planning benefits of HSAs. And they need to help them move from simply opening an account to optimizing it. In the upcoming week, we’ll explain more as we discuss our proprietary model, the 5 Stages of Health Saving and Spending.
Want to learn more? Download the interactive Driving Health Ownership report.
Loaded with industry knowledge and quick-read stats, it shows how you can reap the benefits of higher productivity; improved population health and lower medical spend.