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Digital shopping tools improve care options for employees and bottom lines

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Healthcare expenses are top of mind for consumers across the nation, and as employers navigate the new normal and focus on keeping employees healthy and happy, it’s never been more important to empower employees to find the care they need, where and when they need it, and save them money.

In today’s tough economy, consumers are understandably looking to save money in all areas of their lives. While other industries have taken a consumer-first approach and transformed the shopping journey long ago to make it easy to save money – whether it’s buying a car, booking travel or scheduling a ride – one industry where many consumers don’t know how to save, but want to, is healthcare.

In fact, nearly 60% of employees with employer-sponsored health insurance report that they are looking for more ways to save on their healthcare benefits, according to data from a recent Sapphire Digital survey. This combination of desire and confusion underlines why employers should actively communicate and increase awareness of available cost-saving tools and concierge services to help their employees find low-cost, high-quality care.

Addressing what employees want and need
The healthcare system today is more complex and confusing as consumers struggle to understand where to go for care, how much it will cost and what to know about a facility, provider or procedure – which can lead to making uninformed and expensive medical decisions. When asked what employees want added or expanded as part of their employer-sponsored insurance, 41% said tools to compare costs and care options, schedule appointments online and personal support to help them find the right care at the right place. At the end of the day, consumers are accustomed to an Amazon-experience where they can easily interact and engage with an online platform to assist in making many of their decisions.

Easy-to-understand, personalized digital applications that compare care options that extend beyond search bars, focus on the user, and rely on data intelligence, empower employees to make the best care decisions for themselves and their family members in terms of cost, location and quality.

For example, an employee who has been putting off an elective surgery or imaging test may assume that the best option is to go to the nearest hospital. However, they may be surprised to know that there’s likely several alternate care settings nearby that would cost significantly less without compromising quality. In Dallas for example, an ACL repair can range from as high as $44,229 to as low as $9,959 – and interestingly, the employee may have driven by a half-dozen lower-cost options on the way to the hospital.

Boosting the bottom line with digital healthcare tools
Healthcare costs are skyrocketing, and in 2019, the annual cost for single-person coverage was $1,242, according to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation. What’s more, employers are responsible for the bulk of payments with most large employers covering almost 70% of the costs. With these increasing costs and the financial implications from the pandemic, many employers are struggling to boost their bottom line and are consequently looking at cost-saving measures.

When employees have questions on how to find the best local option or need help scheduling the appointment, concierge services are also available in these tools to provide a human touch and help better guide patients through their care journey.

By encouraging employees to shop for high-value care and spreading awareness about these tools, employers will see significant savings on health plan expenses. Other benefits for employers include increasing retention rates by keeping employees happy and healthy and attracting new talent through enhanced benefits packages.

With economic recovery up in the air and a return to normal life dependent on the development of a vaccine, ensuring the delivery of quality and cost-effective healthcare to employees needs to be a priority. Offering digital solutions that offer the right information at the right time and place builds confidence in employees to make informed decisions and will help ensure they choose low-cost, high-quality care, saving both them and their employers money. These tools provide a win-win solution for everyone and are needed to help employees and employers use their healthcare dollars in the smartest way possible.

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