Employers have an opportunity to adapt their approach to health benefits plan design to accommodate for unexpected upfront costs, as well as meet the unique needs of employees. Removing upfront expenses can reduce an employee's financial impact and potentially eliminate some financial fears associated with seeking medical care. For example, Nonstop’s first-dollar coverage assists organizational leaders optimize costs and increase security, well-being, and peace of mind for employees. Here is a closer look at some of the other plan elements that are growing in demand today.
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) survey found that a majority of firms now offer smoking cessation, weight management, as well as behavioral, lifestyle coaching, or health education programs—all of which can improve healthy behaviors and subsequently reduce the long-term costs of care.
“Workplace health programs also do not have to cost significant amounts of money,” the Center for Disease Control (CDC) describes. “Many effective interventions such as health-related policy changes exist that are low-cost, which is especially important for small- and medium-sized employers.”
Employers can offer basic aspects of proactive or preventative care onsite or assist with the cost of services at local care facilities. These include regularly available biometric, cancer, or other screenings, as well as recurring care such as flu shots, mental health consultations, or assistance finding local providers. Employers may also offer ride-sharing opportunities or transportation vouchers to help patients get to preventative care appointments.
Telemedicine has grown in demand due to new technologies and limitations associated with COVID-19. Telemedicine is often a more accessible, more affordable option for patients with mobility issues or for whom access to specialized care in person is limited. Fortunately, 95% of firms with 50 or more workers now offer health benefits that cover at least some telemedicine services, KFF reports.
Employers are taking more proactive measures to help employees and their family members with stresses from mental or behavioral health issues. Employee assistance programs, substance abuse or mental health resources, and support for related telehealth services are some of the ways employers are becoming proactive.
Even so, 61% of employees experience some stigma around receiving care for mental health, SHRM reports. Stigmas can quickly become a barrier to employees who might otherwise seek necessary care in this area. Employers can apply policy and cultural changes to aid in removing those stigmas, thereby supporting employees who wish to seek out these types of care.
Federal rules now require that health plans make information available to members about real-time estimated costs of services, including upfront costs of care. But many employees aren’t aware of these resources or don’t know how to find them; some of the information insurers and employers offer employees is also difficult to understand.
What’s more, employees of color are “1.4 to 1.5 times more likely than White employees to find the resources and tools explaining benefits unhelpful, even at the highest income levels,” McKinsey reports. But “when companies ... make benefits easy to understand and navigate, employees are more likely to be able to receive the care they need.”
According to the CDC, employers that “create a wellness culture that is employee-centered,” one that “provides supportive environments where safety is ensured,” are more likely to see better health outcomes emerge. Employers can begin by improving everyday aspects of workplace culture, including the availability of healthier foods and supportive facilities.
But the most pronounced changes will come with a better health benefits plan design. Employers can inform this design through a targeted, in-depth internal review. They can identify unique circumstances and correlating solutions that will increase the frequency of healthy choices, minimize stigma, and boost access and affordability when it comes to basic care.
At Nonstop, we believe the future of health benefits plan design can be summarized in one principle: No matter one’s race, gender, income level, or other circumstance, every employee should have access to great care and the resources that employee needs to lead a healthy life. Employers must not only provide benefits that make care financially feasible for all employees, but they must also help employees overcome fears and stigmas through changes in their workplace culture.
With first-dollar coverage, employees and their families can access care when they need it, potentially preventing future health and financial crises. First-dollar coverage can also contribute to better equity, access, and optimism among employees when it comes to healthcare. Contact us directly to learn more about health benefits design opportunities with first-dollar coverage from Nonstop.The information and materials herein are provided for general information purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal or other advice or opinions on any specific matters and are not intended to replace the advice of a qualified attorney, plan provider or other professional advisor. This information has been taken from sources believed to be reliable, but there is no guarantee as to its accuracy. This communication does not constitute a legal opinion and should not be relied upon for any purpose other than its intended educational purpose.