Employee Benefits Programs Can Accomplish More
Employee benefits programs normally help employers with retaining and recruiting employees. However, employee benefits programs are typically provided in a cafeteria-style fashion, requiring employees to pick and choose from an a’ la carte menu. But recently, a growing number of employers are considering a holistic approach to employee benefits programs that make the benefits them more appealing, while taking into account each employees’ total health and well-being. It’s an interesting approach that bears further consideration.
Employee Benefit News recently featured an article on this “packaged” approach to employee benefits programs. To date, most employee benefits have been provided as standalone offerings — separate medical, dental, vision, disability, life, behavioral health, etc. But according to EBN, providing employee benefits separately rather than holistically “creates a disconnected picture of the whole person’s health and can lead to gaps in care and delays in diagnosis and treatment.” In addition, integrating employee benefits not only makes employees’ experience simpler, but it also results in cost reductions. Given the rising expense of healthcare and employee benefits in general, any opportunity to lower those costs is likely a welcome one for both employers and employees.
Having healthy employees means better productivity at work, steady business operations, improved retention, and reduced healthcare costs. According to data from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) cited by EBN, absenteeism costs employers $226 billion per year. Rampant absenteeism, paired with increases in healthcare costs for employers and employees, makes it clear that preventive treatment and early diagnoses are a necessity, EBN noted. Integrating healthcare benefits and treating employees can improve health by identifying and closing gaps in care. It also helps employees to return to work sooner.
Many employers say they understand the value of integrated employee benefits programs. A recent study from Anthem, again cited by EBN, found that 71% of the employers it surveyed are either actively integrating or are considering integrating employee benefits programs, including their medical, vision, dental, pharmacy, and/or disability benefits in the next five years. This is an increase of 11% from 2016. Anthem also found that among those who are integrating or considering integrating employee benefits, nearly 100% reported integrating medical plans with pharmacy, vision, dental, and/or disability benefits. Employers’ overwhelming preference is to integrate all of their employee benefits programs with a single insurance carrier versus multiple carriers.
Another benefit of an integrated employee benefits program is that care providers can co-manage chronic conditions, increase early detection and coordinate care with other providers. Overall, it provides a holistic picture of an employee’s overall health and medical history. Integrating employee benefits programs simplifies and safeguards against potential complications, such as accidentally prescribing contraindicated medications, for example. By giving care providers access to relevant medical prescription histories, potential disconnects in care can be eliminated. Not only does it empower providers to make more informed, effective decisions in delivering care to patients, it also enables employers to eliminate unnecessary costs and reduce productivity issues in the workplace, as well as risks to the employee’s health.
Corporate wellness, including healthcare, is among employers’ top priorities, according to a recent Deloitte study. The American corporate wellness market, already worth $8 billion, is expected to grow to more than $11 billion by 2021. Employers can mitigate rising costs by offering integrated employee benefits programs that reduce health care expenses, improve employees’ treatment and health, and help boost productivity and the bottom line.