Posted December 8, 2015
Employees want to be involved in their benefits choices. The trend is called consumerism, and it’s evidenced by the increased number of Americans embracing the opportunity to get involved in making decisions regarding their health care. With a focus on becoming educated consumers, employees are asking questions of medical providers to understand procedures and services, weighing the value and cost of benefits.
A recent study by FAIR Health discovered these employee purchase priorities:
- Premium cost – Younger consumers, under age 45, are primarily concerned about their monthly cost for benefits plans.
- In-network medical providers – Older consumers, age 45 and over, ranked in-network access to their doctors as most important.
- Physician fees – 63 percent of people ages 18 to 34 indicated that physician costs influenced their choices, as compared to 37 percent for those ages 35 and older.
- Comparison shopping – Although costs for benefits premiums and physicians are top concerns, study participants of all ages indicated they did minimal comparison shopping for medical and dental care. As a result, many were surprised by the amount they paid out of pocket for services.
Engage employees with benefits
Employees engaged with their benefits tend to be more satisfied with their work. Employers and brokers can encourage employees in developing their skills as consumers in three areas:
- Explain costs – Provide detailed information to educate employees on benefits and costs so they can be better consumers. Break down fees for premiums and out-of-pocket expenses into simple descriptions.
- Offer rewards – As employees embrace consumerism and work to lower health care costs, consider providing incentives or rewards. For example, Purdue University is enhancing medical, dental and vision benefits and not raising premiums to reward faculty and staff for being responsible consumers.
- Encourage home remedies and health apps – Americans are taking simple steps to reduce health care costs for minor illnesses and problems by trying natural healing remedies or over-the-counter medications before visiting the hospital emergency room (ER) or contacting their family doctor. They’re also contacting telemedicine services to ask questions and identify at-home treatment options. Health apps are being used on digital devices to monitor health issues, record fitness workouts and track food consumption. However, employees are concerned about the security of the personal information provided, so provide tips on how to keep records private.