As people struggle to adapt to current events, now is the time for employers to empower health plan members to take control of their healthcare and overall wellbeing. But it’s not as simple as just sending out an email reminding people about their benefits.

When it comes to engaging people with their benefits, it’s important to understand the blind spots that make the healthcare system so intimidating, like accessing quality care at a fair price.

Access to good care has long been an issue for many Americans—and it’s only getting more challenging as many wrestle with navigating new routines and managing their wellbeing in the midst of COVID-19.

However, the challenge around accessing care isn’t always due to a lack of good facilities or providers—it’s often due to a lack of benefits education, support and resources.

Many people underestimate the number of care options available to them due to a lack of knowledge and trust in today’s healthcare system. In the same way that people usually don’t shop around for the best healthcare price, they usually don’t take the time to identify all of their provider options before receiving care.

Many go straight to the emergency room to receive treatment for a problem that could have been taken care of at a physician’s office. On average, a bill from the ER is 12 times higher than the cost of going to a primary doctor.

While an ER visit may be unavoidable for some, a recent study found that over 70% of ER visits are unnecessary and could be handled by a primary doctor, walk-in clinic or urgent care. Other studies are seeing a decline in the number of Americans who have a primary doctor.

The lack of education and resources plus the added stress of navigating COVID-19 has left many Americans to take their health into their own hands, often making scary and expensive health decisions with little to no support.

But healthcare decisions don’t have to be scary or isolating. Employers can play a supportive role in connecting people with convenient and affordable care options like telehealth.

Here are 5 ways employers can help empower their people with access to better care options:

  • Educate employees about where they can access care. Especially around when to go to the ER versus seeking care at urgent care or a walk-in clinic.
  • Create a single source of truth for benefits information and market it to your health plan members year-round. Whether that’s a wiki, online portal or posters in the breakroom, make sure your people have access to and know where to find the latest info about their benefits.
  • Encourage members to “shop around” for care using the tools they likely already have available to them. Services like virtual second opinions and telehealth are often much more affordable ways to access quality care.
  • Work with a wellness team to set up regular reminders for yearly check-ups and other exams and provide education around the benefits of having a family doctor or primary physician.
  • Arm your HR and benefits team with data insights so they can better understand what’s driving healthcare costs for the business and target education and resources for health plan members.

Want to talk more about how to create better access options that result in better health outcomes and lower costs? Get in touch with us to learn about our self-funded approach to better benefits.

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