Blog: Three Features Your Employees Look for in Their Health Plan


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Diane Wolfenden

Photo courtesy of Diane Wolfenden

Offering health plans that employees value is not only important for a business’s bottom line, it is also arguably one of the most significant things you can do to recruit and retain talent. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 46 percent of all employees said health insurance was either the deciding factor or a positive influence when choosing their current job.

That same study found that 56 percent of U.S. adults with employer-sponsored health benefits said that whether or not they like their health coverage is a key factor in deciding to stay at their current job.

It is crucial for employers to offer competitive health plans. But what makes a plan competitive and what features do employees value?

We are currently in the open enrollment period for many employer-sponsored health plans. While cost and access to preferred doctors remain the top decision drivers for employee plan selection, here are three additional features employees consider when making their health plan decisions:

1. Cost-saving options

As deductibles continue to increase, plans combined with a health savings account (HSA) or a flexible spending account (FSA) are attractive because they help employees manage their out-of-pocket health care expenses using pre-tax dollars. Some employers even choose to contribute funds to employee saving accounts as an added benefit to further reduce the financial burden of health care on the workforce.

A tiered network plan is another cost saving solution, which enables members to reduce their out-of-pocket costs by seeking care from hospitals or physicians in the Tier 1 network. Since many individuals already use a single health-care system for all of their health care needs, it’s a great money-saving option without sacrificing quality of care.

In addition, employees want transparency in their health-care costs. Many insurers provide tools and resources, such as our Cost Estimator, that allow consumers to research the cost of services before receiving care. These tools allow patients to search the cost of various routine procedures and tests at different medical facilities, allowing them to effectively plan ahead.

2. Well Being programs

These programs are designed to motivate your employees to improve their health. Your wellness program can be customized to your company’s needs. One size does not fit all, and the goal of an effective wellness program is to contribute to overall workforce health and productivity by helping employees get and stay healthy. The best results are often realized if the wellness program is connected to the health plan benefits, rather than a separate offering.

Some aspects of a wellness program may include classes designed to educate employees about health risks and improving behavior, health coaching, smoking cessation courses, gym membership discounts and online health assessments.

The wellness industry is trending toward a greater focus on overall wellbeing. Our wellbeing program, PriorityWell, takes into account the whole person, offering support for physical, mental, and emotional health goals. In addition to nutrition, weight loss, and smoking cessation, programs focused on physical health and wellbeing may also include tools for stress management, financial planning, improving sleep and much more.

Enhancing wellbeing programs, especially in correlation with a smart health plan design, can save you and your employees money by helping them achieve better health and fewer doctor visits.

3.  Virtual Doctor’s Visits

Providing a plan with non-traditional care options may also influence your employees’ decision. Virtual visits, or “seeing” the doctor through a video call or messaging platform, are not only a more convenient option when it comes to less serious conditions, but they also are often more cost effective. Used for fevers, cold and flu, sinus infections, allergies, and more, a virtual visit may have a copay as low as $0, while the price to head to the nearest emergency room or urgent care facility can be $100 or more. Plus, avoiding the waiting room means avoiding exposure to a slew of other germs that might cause additional sickness. These services can help employees avoid numerous sick days, get them back to work quickly and prevent an illness from getting worse, all while getting the care they need from the comfort of their home.

Bonus tip: Once you’ve taken the time to build a benefit package tailored to your employee needs, it’s helpful to regularly communicate with your staff to remind them of the added-value benefits designed to improve their health and save them money.

These features are a win-win for both employees and employers. Cutting down on unnecessary procedures, emergency room visits and illness in general through the utilization of cost estimator tools, wellbeing programs, and virtual care can help lower health-care costs for everyone, leaving your employees more productive, happy, and healthy.

Diane Wolfenden has more than 25 years of experience in the health-care industry. In her role as vice president of the Eastern Region of Priority Health, she leads business development, client services, and product growth in southeast Michigan for the group commercial markets as well as the small group market statewide.

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