There is no question that wellness benefits have become all
the rage in recent years. Companies of all sizes are offering benefits such as
on-site exercise facilities, healthy food during the workday, and flexible work
hours in order to improve employee health and morale. Wellness has been treated
as something of a cure-all for business ills ranging from healthcare costs to
high turnover rates. Are they worth the hype? We think mostly so, but that in
order for wellness programs to be effective they should be tailored to your
company’s values and your employees’ specific needs.
In today’s post we’ll explore the main reasons why you
should adopt wellness benefits including:
- Decrease healthcare costs
- Genuinely help employees
- Adapt to and augment company culture
- Increase employee engagement for productivity and retention
Let’s take a look at what wellness benefits are, how they
can help your business, and how you can get started creating a wellness program
of your own.
So what exactly are wellness benefits? Generally speaking,
they are any program that is intended to improve an employee’s mental or
physical health. Companies are increasingly adopting wellness benefits in order
to keep their healthcare costs low or increase employee morale.
Typically wellness benefits fall into one or both of two
categories: those that address mental health and those that address physical
health. Screenings and counseling can help identify both mental and physical
issues at the same time, but the wellness solutions to the two different
categories of health are generally different.
Some examples of physical wellness benefits are:
- Contests for exercise, weight loss, or smoking cessation
- Subsidized gym membership or on-site exercise facilities
- Free healthy food in-office
- Diet and exercise education and counseling
While mental wellness benefits can include:
- Flexible vacation and remote-work policies
- In-office breaks
- Counseling and therapy
- Support groups
Later we’ll explore how you can assemble the right wellness
package that best fits your company’s values and your employees’ needs. But
first let’s examine just why you should consider implementing wellness benefits
in the first place.
One of the main reasons why wellness benefits are catching
on so quickly is that they just work. In fact, wellness programs have an average
ROI of three to one. There are several reasons why the return on
investment is so high – the first one being that it doesn’t take that much of
an investment to create wellness benefits. Some programs can be expensive, but
benefits like education and competitions are easy to set up and require almost
no monetary commitment. Fundamentally, wellness is a form of prevention, which
is almost always more cost effective than treatment. So even benefits which
involve medical care, such as screening programs, save big bucks in the long
The most obvious impact on your bottom line is decreased
medical expenses overall. Wellness benefits are especially effective at
targeting common ‘lifestyle’ issues, like smoking and obesity, and associated
chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. They have proven
successful in encouraging exercise, healthier eating, weight loss, smoking
cessation, and increased mental health; all of which lower medical costs.
But the financial benefit doesn’t end there. Because
employees become healthier and happier, they miss work less frequently and are
less stressed at work. This leads to increased productivity and decreased
turnover, which are major benefits to your bottom line and to the success of
your organization as a whole.
They Actually Help Employees
Unlike other methods of cutting healthcare costs, wellness
benefits are actually about making employees’ lives better. They decrease the
need for healthcare, rather than the coverage itself, and in-so-doing put the
employee’s needs front and center. Wellness programs only work for the company
if they succeed in helping employees; the ROI comes directly from improved
This makes your job a lot easier – and more rewarding. You
get to think about what’s genuinely best for all of your employees and then
make it happen. And for once you won’t have to fight tooth and nail to get
employees to adopt the new initiatives, because the benefit to them will be
self-evident. Employees are the lifeblood of any company; make the most of this
opportunity to make their lives better while also helping the company succeed.
They Adapt to and Augment Company Culture
Every company’s challenges are different, and the solutions
need to be as well. Your wellness benefits can and should be tailored to fit
your company’s specific needs, goals, and values. They are also often most effective
when implemented with your company culture in mind; choose the benefits that
reflect what your company stands for.
If your wellness benefits are aligned with your culture,
they are more likely to be adopted by your employees and are more likely to address
your employees’ challenges effectively. And if you have a strong culture, then
your employees are already onboard with its values, so they will embrace
benefits that reflect those values.
Best of all, when you implement wellness benefits that are aligned
with your company culture, they will become an important part of the culture
over time. Wellness can be an enormous asset to your culture, serving as proof
that your culture is fostering a sense of shared values and commitments.
They Increase Engagement
Because wellness benefits are intended improve employees’
well-being, they generally make employees feel more valued. They are frequently
viewed by employees as quality-of-life benefits that are meant help them more
than they help the company.
The fact of the matter is that even if you were to implement
wellness benefits purely to cut healthcare costs, you would still have to make
your employees’ lives better in order to attain that goal. And your employees
would appreciate you, and their work, more for it. When your employees feel
valued, they will be more engaged with their work, increasing their
productivity and decreasing turnover.
Don’t just take our word for it – a recent study
found that 85% of employers saw an increase in engagement after implementing
wellness benefits, and that employee engagement was actually the primary reason
for providing wellness benefits for 42% of companies surveyed.
We probably don’t have to explain to you how much it helps
to have your employees engaged in their work. Wellness benefits can help solve
the retention crisis that many businesses are facing in today’s economy.
Turnover is a fact of life and an expensive problem that is only getting worse,
especially when it comes top talent.
And, a major driver of turnover is the difficulty of providing
meaningful work. So, when companies release wellness benefits that get
employees engaged in their work, they can do wonders for employee retention and
productivity. In 2016, Aflac found
that 60% of employees would take a job with lower salary but higher
benefits, and that 42% of employees said that increasing benefits would help
keep them in their jobs.
How to Create a Wellness Program
So, wellness benefits can decrease your healthcare costs,
strengthen your company culture, increase employee productivity and retention. But
you may be wondering how to get started setting up a wellness program. Well,
let’s explore the basics of introducing wellness benefits in your organization.
In order to develop an effective wellness program, you
should determine what health issues you need to address. You can do this in a
few different ways. The first is to consider the main healthcare issues
nationwide, particularly for the demographics that reflect your workforce. The
second is to look at your healthcare expenses over recent years for main
drivers of healthcare costs. The third, and best, way to figure out what issues
to tackle is to conduct a Health Risk Assessment, or HRA, company-wide. These
questionnaires provide you with the information you need to identify the issues
that most affect your employees. Third-party vendors can conduct the assessment
in order to maximize employee comfort and participation and can analyze the
results for you to give you the best possible insights.
Once you have determined what issues you want to tackle,
it’s time to decide on what programs you want to implement. We encourage you to
choose the benefits based on the issues you identified in conjunction with your
company culture. Don’t think too much about what other companies are doing to
address the same issues, try to think about how your company should
solve them. Every company is different, and you want your programs to be in
line with what your company values.
Wellness programs generally fall into four main categories:
screening, education, incentives, and counseling. Screening generally
encompasses preventative care beyond what is covered under the standard
healthcare plan and helps you catch potential issues before they start
affecting employee health and well-being. Education empowers employees to take
control of their health and can take the form of health fairs, regularly
scheduled health seminars or talks. Incentives directly encourage employees to
act to improve their wellness by making it easier to make healthy changes or
rewarding wellness accomplishments. Examples of incentives include contests,
subsidized gym membership, free therapy or guided exercise sessions on-site, or
rewards for participating in the other components of the wellness program such
as screenings or educational talks. Finally, counseling allows employees to
receive confidential advice about their physical, mental, or financial health.
Now that you have decided which programs can make the most
difference for your employees, implement them enthusiastically and
consistently. Get key stakeholders, especially executives and managers, deeply
involved in all of your wellness programs. Effective wellness should be fun and
rewarding, but they also involve challenging employee’s habits and lifestyles,
so your leadership teams can encourage adoption by getting fully onboard
If you follow these guidelines, you should have a strong wellness program that is tailored to what your company stands for and what your employees need to be the healthiest and happiest versions of themselves. Just one last thing – listen to your employees once you have rolled out wellness. They likely know what they want and need better than you do, so you can continue to develop a more effective wellness strategy by encouraging and integrating their feedback.
We’ve thrown a lot of information about wellness at you in
this article. Don’t worry if you can’t remember it all – you can always come
back to refresh your memory. Just remember these key points when you start
thinking about developing a wellness program:
- Wellness is worth everything you put into it and more
- Your company culture should guide your wellness strategy – and your benefits will strengthen your culture in return
- Wellness benefits actually improve your employees’ lives and make them more engaged with their work, increasing retention and productivity
- There is no right way to implement wellness, do what makes sense for you and your employees, and don’t forget to have fun
There are many ways to integrate wellness benefits into your
business. We certainly have not covered everything in this article, but
hopefully you now have a better sense of what wellness can do for your
organization and how you can start putting together a wellness program. We
would love to hear from you about your wellness strategies successes, so post
any ideas we may have missed in the comments!
Prescription drugs are a major driver of healthcare costs
for individuals in general, and for employers specifically. Prices increase an
average of 4% a year and specialty drugs, already the most expensive category, increase by 21% per year.
Politicians across the political spectrum have put drug costs at the center of
their healthcare rhetoric, but little action has actually been taken. In the
meantime, prescription drugs have become the second greatest healthcare expense
for companies and represent roughly a third of total healthcare costs for
Luckily, there are several ways that employers can reduce
their spend on prescription drugs, including:
- Educating Employees
- Empowering Employees
- Providing Employee Incentives
- Using Restrictions as a Last Resort
- Managing PBM Relationships
The number one thing you can do to reduce prescription
expenses is to make sure that your employees are well informed about their
coverage, prescription options, and best practices. Education is free, for the
most part, and will not only reduce costs but will also make employees feel
better about their benefits packages. Many employees feel that their companies
do not sufficiently explain their benefits and coverage, so they will
appreciate any effort to provide them with more information.
Most importantly, educate your employees about best
practices that will save themselves and, by extension, the company money. This
includes telling them about preferred pharmacies, generic alternatives,
mail-order services, and other cost-saving options. Healthcare costs are a
major source of stress for employees as well as employers, so telling employees
what they can do to cut costs will often be enough to cut your expenses
You should also make sure that your employees understand
their coverage and the tools that are available to them. In the next few
sections we will explore various structures and tools you can use to reduce
costs. However, they will only be effective if employees use them, so education
is still key.
Every communication regarding healthcare and reducing
prescription drug costs should be framed in the context of the benefit to the
employee. Hopefully all of the best practices and all of your policies will
help your employees as well as the company – so make that the heart of your
messaging. This can turn a potential morale crisis into a boost in employee
engagement. Your employees will appreciate your efforts to give them the
knowledge and tools they need to manage their healthcare and save themselves
money – and may not even consider the possibility that you are also trying to
save the company money.
While education is vital, it is often not enough. You need
to provide your employees with tools and resources to help them keep the cost
of care low. Best of all, these tools can be presented as new benefits, making
your employees feel valued and appreciated.
An easy tool to implement is a prescription savings card
such as Clever RX. Here at Launchways, we partner with
Clever RX to help improve the benefits experience for our client’s employees.
Clever RX cards offer increased savings at pharmacies and work in conjunction with
most insurance. Users save up to 80% on prescription drug costs and generally
pay less than most copays. More than two thirds of people can save money with a
prescription savings card, especially during an era of rising deductibles.
In addition to giving your employees a prescription savings
card, you can also offer them a comprehensive healthcare planning tool like HealthiestYou. Launchways partners with
HealthiestYou to offer our client’s employees access to quality healthcare
services at a fraction of the cost of traditional healthcare channels. Using
HealthiestYou, employees can search for nearby pharmacies and in-network
providers and easily compare the prices of copays/deductibles at each option to
reduce costs. They also receive regular reminders about benefits and savings,
and can review their coverage information at any time through the app, making
your job of educating your employees that much easier. Perhaps the greatest
benefit of HealthiestYou is their telemedicine platform. With telemedicine, employees
have 24/7 access to teleconference appointments with board-certified doctors.
With telemedicine, employees can receive prescriptions for common health
concerns with a simple phone or video call. HealthiestYou and other apps can
save your employees and your company time, money, and stress.
The last way to reduce healthcare costs across the board by
empowering employees is to offer preventative benefits. If you encourage
healthy employee lifestyles, you can avoid many costs from medical visits and
prescription drugs. An Employee Assistance Program offers confidential
third-party guidance to employees to reduce their stress, help them cope with
their struggles, and hopefully keep them out of medical harm. More importantly,
wellness programs can reduce “lifestyle diseases”, a major cause of medical
costs in the US. Fitness competitions, standing desk options, and access to
gyms or nutritionists either onsite or at a reduced cost can help keep your
employees healthy and off of prescription medications.
While restrictions should be avoided whenever possible, as
we will explore in the next section, you can provide incentives to push employees
towards prescription drug best practices. There are a few key incentives that
are effective and not overly burdensome.
First, you can create additional tiers of insurance to
enable employees opt-in for greater coverage. This can increase cost-sharing
significantly, and offering increased care is an easy sell even if it is at a
higher cost. In particular, consider creating a tier that covers specialty
medications. Specialty drugs represent 38% of prescription costs but only 1-2%
of total prescriptions, so focusing on them can often be the most effective way
of reducing expenses.
Drug formularies offer another powerful incentive to keep
the cost of prescriptions down. They are essentially lists of drugs that are
eligible for increased coverage and available at lower cost to the employee.
You can work with your insurance provider and pharmacy benefits manager to put
together formularies that best meet the needs of your employees and your
company. Formularies are effective because they do not reduce coverage so much
as they encourage intelligent decisions by offering additional incentives for
generics and other cost-effective drugs.
Using Restrictions as a
Many common cost-cutting methods punish employees, shift
costs from the employer to the employee, or reduce the level of care. When
there are so many ways to reduce prescription drug expenses that actually
benefit employees, restrictions should be avoided whenever possible as they can
cause harm, or at least inconvenience, to employees and damage employee trust
in your company.
Even the perception that you are cutting coverage can cause
morale to plummet, driving poor performance and high turnover as employees look
for a company that they believe will provide greater benefits. This is why it
is important to emphasize the benefit to the employee throughout the healthcare
conversation, and avoid policies that genuinely reduce coverage.
That being said, some restrictions are acceptable options to
use as a last resort when you need to reduce costs significantly or the other
methods have proven insufficient:
- Prior authorization before filling a
- Mandatory mail-order for maintenance medications
- Medical justification for name-brand
prescriptions over generic alternatives, or make employees cover the difference
in cost between name brand and generics
- Step therapy: allow employees to access the
drugs they need but require them to try more cost effective treatments before
stepping up to more expensive drugs
Managing PBM Relationships
One of the most effective ways to cut prescription expenses
is to work with a Pharmacy Benefit Management company, or a PBM. These
organizations negotiate with pharmacies, drug companies, and health insurance
providers to secure rebates for specific drugs and keep costs low for their
Currently, 65% of companies use a PBM to reduce their
healthcare costs. If you are not one of those companies, then you should look
into how a PBM can save you money on prescription drugs. But if you already
work with a PBM, you can increase your savings by putting your relationship
under the microscope.
The first thing to keep in mind is that you should never
sign a long contract with a given PBM and you should retain the right to
renegotiate the contract at any time. This keeps them on their toes and ensures
that they will continue to work to get you new savings. It also empowers you to
take matters into your own hands to correct any abuse by the PBM.
Once you have secured the ability to monitor and correct PBM
behavior, you need to actively manage your relationship. Examine your contracts
regularly and renegotiate whenever possible to make sure that the needs of your
company and your employees are being met in a cost effective manner. Also, do
not be afraid to research current trends and price compare with other PBMs to
make sure that your relationship still makes financial sense.
We have covered a lot of cost-cutting strategies in this
article, so here are the key things you can do to reduce your prescription drug
- Prioritize employee education around your
- Inform your employees of best practices and
- Empower your employees to save themselves time
and money with tools like Clever RX, Healthiest You, and lifestyle benefits
- Encourage your employees to follow best
practices with new insurance tiers and drug formularies
- Use restrictions as a last resort, because while
they can be effective you risk alienating employees
- Partner with PBMs to reduce costs, but
consistently manage your PBM relationship to maximize the benefit to your
employees and your bottom line
- Work with an employee benefits broker
that helps you build and implement a strategy to control prescription drug
In an age of rising drug prices, and higher co-pays and deductibles, many employers are cutting coverage to manage their costs. But the reality is that you can effectively reduce costs while helping your employees receive the highest level of healthcare.
Another open enrollment period has come and gone. Hopefully this stressful time of year went smoothly for your HR department and for your employees, but chances are your team is frazzled and your employees still have questions about the plans they signed up for. No matter how well you handled open enrollment, there are probably steps you can take to make things go better next year.
Why is it so important to get open enrollment right? Well,
according to Aflac surveys,
80% of employees believe that their benefits package influences their
engagement in their jobs and with their companies. Moreover, a majority of
employees surveyed said that they were likely to accept a job with lower
compensation but better benefits. Therefore, it is vital that you make sure
that employees have access to their benefits, are fully informed about the
range of benefits available to them, and feel positive about every part of the
benefits enrollment process.
So how can you make next year’s open enrollment period more
satisfying and less painful for everyone involved? All the answers you need are
in the open enrollment period you just survived. Take a hard look at the past
enrollment period to figure out what went well, what didn’t go so well, and
what you can do to handle open enrollment more effectively next year.
In today’s post we will examine the key components of a
successful open enrollment analysis, plus share a few best practices every team
could benefit from:
- Collecting Data
- Identifying Trends
- Analyzing Behaviors
- Creating Actionable Next Steps
- Common Best Practices
The first step to figuring out what to do next year is
finding out exactly what happened this year. Hopefully you collected useful
information during open enrollment, such as employee enrollment rates or the
number of emails, meetings, one-on-one sessions, and calls between employees
and internal stakeholders regarding the benefits options. What’s important to
do now that the enrollment period is over, though, is to find out what
employees and internal stakeholders thought of the process in order to identify
pain points and preferences.
Some of the most important insights into your open
enrollment procedures can come from soliciting feedback from employees. The
best way to do this is to send surveys out to all employees who participated in
open enrollment. Here are some key things to ask employees about in the
- Ease of enrollment
- Accessibility of information about benefit options
- Perceived quality of benefit options
- Areas for improvement
- Preferred methods for enrollment and communication
In addition to talking to employees, you should also make
sure to send surveys to your internal stakeholders – namely managers and
members of the HR department – to see how open enrollment went for them. Be
sure to include questions about:
- Success meeting enrollment goals
- Processes that went well
- Issues that arose
- Suggested procedures for next year
- Ways to make their job easier during open enrollment
Once you have collected enough data, it is time to analyze
it to draw inferences that will allow you to plan for next year. You should
look for trends in survey responses that indicate either successes or
challenges during the enrollment period.
Some common trends that you may encounter in employee
surveys that you should take seriously include:
- Confusion regarding benefit details
- Dissatisfaction with benefit options
- Frustration with the enrollment process itself
Things to look out for in your survey responses from
internal stakeholders are:
- Answering the same questions over and over
- Not knowing who to direct employees to for further information
- Difficulty tracking enrollment/other systems issues
Analyze Behaviors and Processes
Behind each trend is a behavior or set of behaviors that
drove the end result for your employees or stakeholders. In many cases the good
or bad behaviors and processes will become evident as soon as you identify the
trends, others may require further interviews with troubled survey respondents
The same trends can also have different behaviors behind
them that will become clear upon further investigation. Take, for instance, the
example of employee dissatisfaction with benefit options. You have a serious
issue when a lot of employees are not happy with the benefits offered to them,
since benefits are key to employee performance and retention. In some cases,
your benefits package may need to be reviewed and expanded. Most of the time,
however, employees’ dissatisfaction stems from not being clearly informed of
the full range of options available to them. Taking the time to explain the
options and how they provide for employee needs can nip this issue in the bud.
General categories of behaviors and processes to examine in
explaining each trend include:
- Distribution of benefit option information
- Communication structures and behaviors
- Availability of resources for employees, managers, and the human resources team
- Enrollment process – did employees enroll on paper or online?
- Enrollment tracking
Create Actionable Next Steps
For each behavior that you identify in the previous step,
you should create actionable next steps to improve the enrollment process next
year. Think about how you can prevent the issues that came up this year, what
new practices you can establish to make the process easier, and how you can preserve
existing positive behaviors so that they do not get lost over time.
You shouldn’t put off implementing new best practices until
next enrollment period. Make a game plan for how you can prepare for open
enrollment over the course of the entire year. Set quarterly and monthly goals
and keep yourself, and your team, accountable to that schedule.
Let’s continue the trend/behavior example from the previous
section and look at some actionable next steps you can take to address employee
dissatisfaction with benefit options. The first step you can take is to
follow-up with survey respondents to find out exactly what they thought was
lacking in the benefits package. If it turns out that the options actually
include many of the things that they want, then you know you have a
communications issue. So, create a plan for how you can address the issue over
the time from now until open enrollment closes. This might include a monthly
newsletter featuring benefits options, establishing one-on-one meetings with
each employee to determine their needs and find the plans that meet those
needs, or creating a new benefits handbook.
Common Best Practices
Each company’s challenges are unique, but there are some
things that most people can do to make open enrollment as productive and
pain-free as possible.
Get Employees Ready in Advance
Take the opportunity to highlight your benefits package and
boost employee engagement by providing clear and positive information about
benefits options. Create easy to digest reference materials, make the HR team
and insurance brokers as accessible to employees as possible, and hold open
meetings explaining benefits year-round. Also, make sure that your managers have
the information they will need well ahead of time, because their team members will
come to them with questions as soon as open enrollment starts.
Establish Effective Processes
Track as many metrics as possible in real-time during open
enrollment next year, so that you can correct issues immediately and minimize
post-enrollment follow-up. You should examine your benefits processes every
year, but try to make your job easier next year so that you do not have to do
as much data collection.
Also, set up clear communication procedures and do not
deviate from them. That way employees know where and how to get more
information about their benefits options and you can avoid costly mixed messages
and wasted time.
Make Compliance Easy
Keep your team members happy by making ACA compliance as
painless as possible. The best way to do this is to take a look at how you
document coverage offers. If you don’t have a standardized, streamlined, and
electronic way of tracking coverage offers, it’s time to investigate different
software options. Record keeping is a pain, there is no reason to make your
team’s job harder. Also, make a plan for when you are going to send employees
information necessary for compliance, such as the Summary of Benefits and
Coverage and the Uniform Glossary. The more formalized the process is, the less
likely you are to let something slip through the cracks.
Communicate Year Round
Even if you have your open enrollment procedures down, there
are probably things you could do year round to make your lives easier come
enrollment time and provide employees with more information, more regularly.
The best way to do this is to send a benefits newsletter
every month or quarter, or to regular email updates on benefit options and
policy changes. This way, employees will have access to more information when
the time comes to choose their benefits, without being overloaded with
information all at once. The sad truth is that the majority of employees spend
less than an hour reading about available plans and choosing their benefits.
So, giving them information in more manageable pieces throughout the year can
help prepare them more effectively than providing more information than they
will use at the start of open enrollment.
Sending regular updates can also make your internal
stakeholders’ jobs easier too. It can be hard to record all of the policy
changes that occurred over the past year; newsletters give you a reason to
record the changes over the course of the year rather than all at once when
open enrollment is approaching. The newsletters or emails will also become
valuable resources for your team to direct employees to in order to answer
In this post we have explored how to analyze your processes to
make sure open enrollment gives you less of a headache next year. Some key
- Track data during open enrollment and collect information from employees using surveys
- Identify issues and successes from last year
- Figure out the behaviors and processes behind the trends
- Create a plan for next year to correct the bad and improve on the good
What practices has your company implemented to make open
enrollment easier and more successful? Share your tips in the comments below.
Open enrollment season can be a stressful time of year, but it doesn’t have to be. The team at Launchways has put together an open enrollment checklist that will help make sure your team has a smooth enrollment experience.
Planning ahead for enrollment season
- Conduct employee surveys to determine workforce healthcare and benefits preferences. Leverage survey results to make relevant changes/additions to your benefits program.
- Consider offering additional benefits beyond healthcare and life insurance. These might include telemedicine, a student loan assistance program, employee discount program, or a financial wellness platform.
- Consider offering new benefits, even if they’re 100% voluntary. Many employees highly value the option to partake in voluntary benefits.
- Work proactively with your broker on plan design changes to ensure all changes are completed well in advance of open enrollment time.
- Consider leveraging an online benefits enrollment software. Benefits administration software allows your enrollment to go paperless and provides educational tips to help your employees pick the right plan for their family’s needs.
- Make a list of all new changes that will enhance your benefits program and/or enrollment process. Make a plan to communicate these key highlights with your team.
- Create an enrollment communication strategy. Determine all the communication channels you will use and what materials you need to create for open enrollment.
Ensure your employees receive all the necessary communication materials including:
• Open enrollment schedule
• Statement of current coverage
• Plan-specific changes and rates
• Plan-specific summaries
• Open enrollment guide and forms
• Deadline for open enrollment
• Contact information for key contact in case employees have questions or need additional help
Plan Design Issues
• Confirm that your plan’s out-of pocket maximum complies with the ACA’s limits for 2019
• For HDHPs (high deductible health plans), confirm that the plan’s deductible and out-of-pocket maximum comply with the 2019 limits.
• Communicate any plan design changes to employees as part of the open enrollment process.
When in doubt, ensure the following key pieces of information are being communicated to your team during open enrollment time:
• Enrollment deadlines
• Where/how to enroll
• Healthcare provider information
• Changes from the previous year
Remember that the key objective of open enrollment is to get all your employees enrolled on-time for the benefits plan that’s best for their family’s needs. A strategic communication plan can ensure employees know when and how to enroll, and can even help them pick the best benefits plan for them. Keep in mind that minimizing confusion during open enrollment time is key. This is why proactively communicating plan changes is important.
If you’re interested in a more in-depth guide on how to conduct a successful open enrollment, make sure to register for our upcoming webinar “How to Have a Successful Open Enrollment.”
Healthcare costs are rising with an 8% increase year over year. One innovative method employers are using to control costs while improving healthcare delivery is telemedicine. Telemedicine is an emerging technology field which facilitates two-way digital communications between patients and doctors. While a few years ago telemedicine was hardly on the radar of most businesses, it has become increasingly prevent in modern companies.
Since 2015, there has been a 26% increase in employers who offer these services. And according to the Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans, almost 60% of America’s large employers currently provide telemedicine.
Diversifying your business’ healthcare offering will not only help you remain competitive in the quest for top talent, but also help you build a happier, more productive workforce. Telemedicine is a great place to start in addressing the changing needs of today’s healthcare consumer. In today’s post you’ll learn:
- What is telemedicine?
- How does telemedicine work?
- What are the benefits of telehealth services?
- How to implement a telehealth program at your business
What is telemedicine?
Telemedicine, also known as telehealth, can be defined as electronic two-way real-time communication between a medical professional and a patient. This communication might happen over a phone call, video call, or even a mobile chat. With telehealth services, your employees can speak with a medical professional on-demand via computer, phone, tablet, or a digital app on a mobile phone.
How does telemedicine work?
Telehealth is simple to roll-out and even easier for your team to being taking advantage of. Through a mobile or desktop telemedicine app, an employee initiates an appointment. The employee can select a phone call or video call. The telehealth app then directly connects the employee with a board-certified doctor. The doctors collects the necessary information, makes a diagnosis, and overviews next steps for the patient’s treatment. All the medical professionals employees access through telemedicine are board-certified doctors and are fully licensed to prescribe treatment and medications directly through the app.
What are the benefits of telemedicine?
Telemedicine affords your business and your employees many benefits including:
- Reduced healthcare costs for employees and employers. Unnecessary doctor and ER visits cost both employers and employees millions of dollars a year. In fact, studies show that almost 75% of all doctor, urgent care, and ER visits are either unnecessary or could be handled safely via telehealth. Research estimates that telemedicine could potentially deliver more than $6 billion a year in healthcare savings to U.S. companies. The estimated return on investment for a telemedicine program was about $3.30 in cost savings for every $1 spent on program implementation, according to the Geisinger Health Plan study.
- Reduced absenteeism. Employees frequently miss work for doctors appointments or illness. Telehealth helps combat this by providing 24/7 access to doctors, on-demand. In many cases, telemedicine eliminates the need for in-person office visits for simple ailments like the flu, ear infections, and sinusitis. In one survey, 21% of patients said not having to travel to the doctor’s visit was the top benefit of telemedicine.
- Happier employees. Research shows that employees highly-value access to a telemedicine solution. A recent survey found that of those who have experienced real-time telehealth communication with a mobile app, 80% prefer this method to a traditional in-office medical visit.
- Empowered employees. Telehealth services help empower employees to take charge of their health. In one study, 53% of patients felt that telemedicine increased their involvement in treatment decisions.
- Healthier employees. As with any healthcare benefit, better health outcomes are the ultimate goal. Significant research has been done to determine telehealth’s effect on patient outcomes. A study on the Geisinger Health Plan, found that patient readmissions were 44% lower over 30 days and 38% lower over 90 days for patients enrolled in a telemedicine program.
How to Implement a Telehealth Program at Your Business
Many healthcare providers are now including a telehealth program along with their healthcare network. Another option is to roll-out a dedicated telemedicine program through a telehealth app provider, such as HealthiestYou. In most cases, a dedicated telehealth provider has better technology and much higher employee utilization rates than the telehealth features rolled into provider plans.
The right benefits broker can help you analyze your existing healthcare offering and determine the best plan to integrate telehealth services. Here at Launchways, we partner with Teledoc, HealthiestYou, and Best Doctors to help our clients roll-out high-impact telemedicine programs.
In today’s post we explored what telemedicine is, the key benefits it brings your workforce, and how to roll-out a telehealth program at your business. Here are some key takeaways:
- Telemedicine is an emerging healthcare trend many employers are adopting to attract top talent and cut costs on healthcare spend
- Telehealth services give your employees real-time access to board-certified doctors via a phone, desktop, or tablet
- Telemedicine can help your organization cut healthcare costs while also improving healthcare outcomes for your team
- Many healthcare providers offer a telemedicine feature, but a dedicated telehealth solution typically has better utilization rates
- Your benefits broker can help you determine how to integrate telemedicine into your benefits program
Is your team using telemedicine? If not, do you plan to roll out a telehealth program this year? Let me know in the comments below.