Changing healthcare from healing the sick to maintaining the healthy
Many people go to the doctor only when there is a problem. If there doesn’t seem to be any pain or sickness, chances are the average person will not go to see a physician. However, what many people do not know is that even though they may not be experiencing any pain or nausea, there still might be a serious medical problem that lays dormant within.
According to a study by Welltok, 54% of employees say employers should help them stop unhealthy behaviors, and 64% of employees who participate in employer-provided health programs say they participated because it improved their health and changed their behavior.
John Denery of Stephens Insurance says employers should not only be encouraging their employees to have regular check-ups, but should also be making it a requirement.
Also see: “Employees underwhelmed with wellness plans.”
“From a claims standpoint, we are not seeing any return or benefit from the traditional wellness plans,” Denery says. “The people that are joining the programs are people who would join them anyway.”
Denery says if incentivizing employees by seeding their HSAs or offering wellness events are not encouraging them to maintain quality health, employers should penalize employees who are not doing regular check-ups by increasing healthcare cost.
“We can charge up to 30% of the employee only premium to get them motivated to do [these regular check-ups],” he says. “We’re finding that if you impact someone’s finances, they are going to move far quicker than if it’s just voluntary.”
On the other hand, if employees are doing their regular check-ups and screening, employers could incentivize those employees by reducing the cost of their overall health insurance.
According to the 2016 State of Employee Benefits study by Benefitfocus, HSAs are underutilized. Participants contributed 42% of the maximum amount allowed for HSAs in 2016 on their platform.
The study also showed that even though employers contributed to employee HSAs, the employee contributions were still 70% below the 2016 limit.
Millennials are missing a much greater opportunity, with the average single, 25-year-old employee contributing only around 22% of the maximum amount.
According to Welltok’s study, age demographics showed different times when employees were willing to make a change in their health and well-being. Employees between the ages of 45 and 54 were 60% likely to make a conscious health change after a health screening or doctor recommendation, while employees ages 18-24 were roughly 40% likely to make a health change based on a health screening or doctor recommendation.
Denery says one of his clients never went to the doctor because he would never feel sick, but realized when he went for his first check-up in 10 years he was nowhere near fine.
“One individual we caught hadn’t been to the doctor in over 10 years and probably wouldn’t have gone for another 10 years and he found out he had early stages of leukemia,” Denery says. “Because he was caught in the early stages of leukemia, the impact, not only to the health plan, to him and his family, is huge.
Denery added that the executive leadership needs to treat their healthcare plans like any other part of their business and have regular reviews on the status of enrollment, who is making regular visits to the doctor and who is making contributions to their HSA or FSA.