Look up “engagement” in the dictionary, and the definition you’ll get will be something along the lines of “participation and becoming involved with or establishing meaningful contact or connection with something” as the lead definition. Look a little further down the page and you’ll get another take: “a fight or battle between armed forces.”
When it comes to engagement in the healthcare system, a daunting and complex world with little to no price transparency for services rendered, it’s unfortunate that our experience is often more like the latter than the former.
Healthcare is confusing.
For most consumers, dealing with the healthcare system means:
Navigating your insurance plan. Navigating an insurance plan means grappling with features and complex terms that are tougher to comprehend than a legal document.
Finding a care provider. Finding the right doctor or facility can be tricky if you're not an expert. Most people have little to no guidance on which providers are actually good at what they do and how much they will charge for services.
Understanding your bills. What happens after your visit? Inevitably, any contact with the healthcare system ends with a pile of bills that seem to intentionally confuse you into just paying.
In 2016, 29% of covered workers were enrolled in a high deductible health plan (HDHP); a trend that has continued to increase from 2006 when the number was 4% (!). With health insurance costs continuing to rise, it is expected that this trend will continue.
As an advisor, I always encouraged my clients to explore offering an HDHP. Higher deductible plans tend to be less expensive for employers to offer. The challenge, however, is making sure your employees are equipped to properly engage with the healthcare system itself. Providing consumers with the information they need to be educated consumers is the first step towards empowerment and, eventually, behavioral change.
HR & Finance teams rely on benefits brokers to be their trusted advisors when it comes to employee benefit plan design, negotiation, and troubleshooting. Employees, as the actual consumers of those plans, need to be armed and ready to take on the system as well. With more financial responsibility falling on the consumer, via increased deductibles and slimmed down networks, etc., employees need to be armed with the right information in order to make the best decision possible. By providing employees with access to expert health assistants, TouchCare empowers employees to better engage with the healthcare system.
Better information = better decisions = better outcomes.
So what’s in it for Finance & HR? The ROI of TouchCare is definable in a variety of ways:
1. Make up for lost productivity. Employees don’t spend their workday researching their healthcare options. By engaging a TouchCare Assistant, an employee earns their time back. Within 24 hours, they’ll receive all the information they need from cost estimates to doctor’s reviews, locations, and more.
2. Drive down claims utilization. For most employers with over 100 employees, your medical renewal is based on your claims experience. For employers who self-insure, this is even more relevant. By helping employees remain in-network, find better care, and find the right care, we help reduce the overall claims that are paid out.
3. HR is no longer the benefits department. HR teams are doing more today than ever before. Recruiting, hiring, employee culture, leadership development, performance management, training… the list goes on. Answering employee benefits questions is both time-consuming and personal. By providing employees with a confidential, dedicated expert, HR teams are able to offload this from their day to day and focus on creating the type of organization they want to build.
4. Data, data, data! By properly using the data collected, employers become empowered to offer a more effective health insurance program by designing the plans and offerings in a way that will have the greatest impact on their employee population.
Healthcare spend continues to challenge employers. Recently Warren Buffett said, “medical costs are the tapeworm of American economic competitiveness.” With Congress continuing to battle over what to do with healthcare, employers need to find creative ways to take control of their own situation. Knowledge is power, and by providing employees with the right tools to effectively engage with the system, we can drive down the cost of healthcare by making better decisions.
Rob LaHayne is the CEO of TouchCare. He is a healthcare industry veteran who believes that #realreform comes from a healthier understanding of healthcare. Rob and his family live in New York City.