In our 2017 National Survey of Employer –Sponsored Health Plans, we asked employers to rate the importance of strategies they will be using over the next five years to advance the triple aim of lower cost, higher quality, and a better member experience. This post on health plan choice and decision support is part of a series that looks at these six key strategies.
What do ponchos, neckties, and hula-hoops have in common? One size fits all. Not on the list: healthcare. That’s because everyone’s healthcare needs are unique and influenced by a variety of factors, such as family size, genetics, pre-existing conditions—even how clumsy we are! Furthermore, the past is not always a predictor of the future. For example, if there was a birth in a family last year, that won’t necessarily happen again this year. And if a family member had a skiing accident last year, I’m sure they hope they won’t have another one this winter!
Since healthcare is not one size fits all, and deciding between healthcare options isn’t as simple as trying on a few shirts to see which fits, employees often need help. Choosing a health plan requires predicting what may happen in the next year, understanding one’s ability to absorb the cost associated with an unexpected healthcare event (like that skiing accident), and factoring in known care needed for them and their family (for example, care for a chronic condition).
Here are three tips for employers to help their employees make the right decision:
- Offer a variety of options. We’ve found that meaningful choice is valued by employees. For employers offering our Mercer Marketplace 365+ solution, 90% offer three to five medical plan options and, in these cases, all options have meaningful participation.
- Provide access to simple, easy-to-use decision support tools to assist employees in making the right choice for them. It’s important to have tools that not only consider cost, but also evaluate employee preferences. For example, do you prefer to pay more from your paycheck and have certainty in your cost (e.g. a copay) when you go to see a doctor, or pay a lower amount out of your paycheck and have costs for a doctor’s visit subject to deductible and coinsurance? On our Mercer Marketplace 365+ platform, about 55% of families prefer lower payroll contributions over lower out of pocket costs. Asking employees a short set of questions can highlight a best match for them.
- Give employees the ability to put a package of coverages together that will complement the gaps in core coverage. If an employee has the means to cover their financial risk should they have a skiing accident or be diagnosed with cancer, they might be more inclined to enroll in the high deductible health plan option you offer. We’ve found that 43% of employees on the Mercer Marketplace 365+ platform purchase at least one supplemental health plan (such as, Accident, Critical Illness, or Hospital Indemnity) to provide coverage should they have an unexpected event.
Choosing the right healthcare coverage is important, but it can be an intimidating process. These are three important ways employers can help their employees navigate the complicated world of health benefits and make informed, confident decisions based on their unique set of needs.
More posts on Key Strategies:
- The Surprisingly Strong Connection Between Well-being and Turnover
- High Cost Claims By the Numbers
- High-Cost Claims: You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
- Why Consider Point Solutions? (And What are They, Anyhow?)
- Point of Sale Drug Rebates
- Three Steps to Building a Better Health Plan Network
- Where's the Real ACO?
- Disruption is Not a Four-Letter Word