Employers are making stronger efforts to educate their employees about health care and manage costs. However, they’ve also realized that encouragement alone is not enough to produce employees who are better health care consumers. In order to make their employees better health care consumers, employers must equip them with the incentive and tools to become what they need to be. For many companies, the answer to their problems has many facets. Health care consumerism requires education and tools for adequate exercising, eating a balanced diet, monitoring health numbers, avoiding smoking and taking the initiative to make changes when health numbers aren’t optimal. In addition to this, health consumerism involves employees being aware of the costs of health care and taking measures to lower those costs. Plan designing, communication and incentives are all important parts of the equation. There are several important issues to consider with this idea.
Helping Employees Care about Their Health. Employers are realizing that simply offering options to employees isn’t enough. They know that employees must receive incentives for doing something difficult that ultimately benefits the employer. In addition to providing employees with the necessary tools to become better healthcare consumers, employers must also give them a reason to use those tools. For example, many pharmacies have varying prices among brand-name drugs and generic equivalents. Educating employees about this difference is important. If they realize all their HSA fund allowance will be used to pay for the expensive name-brand drug, they’ll be more driven to shop smart and use the generic equivalent.
Implementing Consumer-Directed Plans. Many companies that are designing plans are using consumer-directed health plans with health reimbursement arrangements or health savings accounts. To learn how these plans work, discuss the details with us. Some employers are now offering more options for their employees. However, reaching optimal health and maintaining it is the overall goal. Many companies are realizing the importance of trying to run an active health plan to encourage a healthy lifestyle instead of just offering a sick plan to deal with illnesses.
Offering Attractive Incentives. The efforts employers have made to help their employees save for retirement with contribution plans are similar to their efforts to move employees toward better health care consumerism. The main similarity is that both plans involve a greater amount of responsibility being placed on employees. While they face more responsibilities, their employers use incentives to offer rewards for desired behavior. Just as employers use matching contributions to retirement plans to encourage participation, many are now offering contributions toward HSAs and HRAs to encourage participation and better health care consumerism.
Keeping on Track. In order to keep health care consumerism alive, employers must keep track of their efforts. This allows them to determine whether employees are changing their behaviors or not. Some companies have developed special systems for tracking progress. One company developed a helpful dashboard of metrics, which is reviewed monthly for success. It shows the progress of employees as they work toward earning incentives. It also shows interaction rates with health plan representatives through the company’s work sites. There are several ways to implement these valuable changes. To learn more, discuss the possible options with one of our agents.