The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that nearly half of Americans struggle to afford health care, with about 4 in 10 saying they’ve delayed or gone without health care due to cost. Unfortunately, medical costs are projected to continue increasing. Financial services organization, Peter G. Peterson Foundation, found that, on average, health care costs U.S. households $12,900 per person per year. Furthermore, some experts warn that the full impact of healthcare inflation hasn’t been felt, because health plans often have multiyear contracts that lock in costs.
Helping employees access affordable health care can improve their overall health, decrease stress, help employers attract good employees and contribute to employee retention. This article provides guidance on how employers can help make health care more affordable for employees.
The 2023 Healthlock Attitudinal Survey found that nearly one-third of surveyed Americans feel overwhelmed by health care and medical bills. While cost was a major factor, 63% of people also reported the medical billing process as challenging. Those responding to the survey were often anxious about the time and effort that it takes to manage their medical bills. Unexpected bills and affordability were other concerns.
Low rates of health care literacy contribute to the stress associated with paying medical bills. In fact, a 2023 survey by voluntary benefits solutions provider Optavise found that 10% of people do not know what an insurance premium is, and that 8% do not know the meaning of “in network” or “out of network”. The failure to understand health insurance can cause employees to make uninformed and costly medical decisions.
Additionally, Optavise’s survey found that employees are still not getting the information they need from their employers to make informed healthcare decisions. Many survey respondents were self-taught, and just 30% had learned about health care from their employer’s HR department, down from 37% in 2021.
Many employees look to their employers for guidance and information regarding their healthcare plans. According to Optavise, 39% of employees want to learn more about managing surprise medical bills, 33% want to know how cost-sharing works and 22% want to know how to choose a health plan. Employers who educate their employees on these topics can help workers avoid large and surprising medical bills and reduce healthcare costs for employees and their organizations. Employers should consider the following strategies:
Improving the affordability of health care for employees can reduce group plan costs, decrease employee stress, and boost morale and job satisfaction. These efforts are also critical to maintain a healthy workforce and attract top talent.
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This article is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice. © 2023 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.