Redesigning your healthcare plan during coronavirus
Providing effective and affordable health and wellness benefits have been top of mind for many HR managers during the coronavirus pandemic, but ineffective plan designs may be making access more difficult for employees, says Jodi Hubler, president of Bind, a health insurance company. COVID-19 can be the catalyst to address common issues with healthcare plans, she says.
“We have an opportunity to stop and really challenge areas where the plan design is not okay, like ineffective deductibles, a lack of choice, or a lack of transparency that leads to waste,” Hubler says.
At Bind, users have access to an integrated health platform where they can search by condition to find treatment options by price, without needing to reach a deductible. This straightforward and transparent experience is critical to both supporting employees and saving money, Hubler says.
“We can give people peace of mind — plan sponsors and members don’t have to be burdened by the concern of a $4,000 deductible or concerned about finding another web tool to figure out how to access additional health needs,” Hubler says.
Hubler shared her thoughts on the growth of telehealth and how HR managers can adapt a more integrated approach to healthcare plan design.
How has telehealth evolved as a must-have benefit during this pandemic?
At the start of this, there was a concern about, if we open Pandora's box, what happens with telehealth? But my view is that the box has not only been opened, it's been recycled. There is no going back. It’s exposed efficiencies at a clinical level — we're now seeing primary care orthopedics. We're seeing the ability for people to understand the administrative efficiencies and benefits of triaging in a more effective way. We're seeing the ability to meet people where they are and to come alongside them. And what better time for physicians to be able to have the opportunity to meet the patients in a time of need.
The value that virtual and telehealth visits have now created is not something that consumers are going to let go of before there's certainty about this disease. This time frame is creating a sense of permanence that I think both consumers, clinicians and plan sponsors will want as a foundation for their health plans.
How should employers be framing this time as an opportunity to provide better benefits for their workforce?
From a leadership perspective, we've been forced to stop, so we have the opportunity now to challenge fundamental plan design and then choose differently. In that opportunity we can look at a few things, like the integration of mental health and the focus on mental health. Look at ineffective deductibles. Look at the lack of transparency that leads to waste and minimal choice. We're seeing more and more plan sponsors understand that when presented with choices, employees choose more cost effective care, which is not only good for them, but it's also best for their employer that’s taking on the spend.
We believe healthcare options need to be integrated and streamlined. There shouldn’t be 40 different touch points for navigating your healthcare system. When I go on my app and look for diabetes or back pain, I get to see the array of choices and vendor integration in a very sophisticated way that allows me to own my condition.
What can we learn from this pandemic that will help employers in the future?
In this time where we are in the immediacy of now, what does it mean as an employer? That benefit leader who has had that thought: “I wish for a time when I could do the following,” can use that as a call to action. I really think that COVID-19 has provided an opportunity for employers to really put forward a strategic imperative and take this as a challenge and choose for the offerings to be different.