Employers need to Plan Health Insurance Differently in 2020 to Ensure Employees Return to Work Healthy and Productive

The COVID-19 pandemic was not expected, due to which employers did not have protocols in place to manage the economic impact the pandemic inflicted on their employees. Though, all employers are not facing the same challenges in delivering health, safety, and recovery to their employees. Most of the employers have found themselves at the behest of Health care Inc. and have become victims of the healthcare industry’s timelines. Employees are generally left without answers and clarity of direction, thereby leading them to fear and panic.

The pandemic has highlighted that the healthcare system is not working for anyone, be is healthcare providers, consumers, nor the employers, who sponsor coverage for millions of Americans. Now it is believed that employers have a significant role in leading the way the U.S. progresses ahead. It is time for them to plan out things differently, as the new deal mindset is required post-pandemic to counter significant economic and health system recovery.

Employers need to take initiative because nearly half of Americans receive health coverage through employer-sponsored health plans. This mixes employers with the health care system irrespective if they want to be or not. Businesses of all sizes today are focusing on bringing employees back to safe working environments in good health. However, they need to prepare themselves, as there be an increase in surgeries and chronic disease management care because all these have been on the backseat for months. Employees’ health is more critical today and the magnitude of employees requiring access to healthcare benefits is massive.

The cost of keeping employees insured had been escalating towards unsustainable year-over-year for nearly two decades. According to a recent study, large employer-sponsored health plans are expected to witness a 6% rise in the costs, if no changes are made. And if employers don’t implement some type of cost management, then there will be a five percent increase. In most of the cases, cost management can only be implemented if employees and their families pick up more of the health plan cost. However, with this approach, the cost burden will shift around and will not address the main cause behind the inefficiencies of the healthcare system, who are unable to effectively control the cost for employers and employees over the long period. Besides, with employees facing challenges like furloughs and additional healthcare costs related to COVID-19, burdening the employees is not right.

Employers need to Opt for New Deal and Invest in Health & Benefits to Expect a Better Outcomes:

While examining costs and outcomes for employers it was observed that if businesses are spending 5%-6% more annually to sponsor healthcare for their employees, then they would expect improved health outcomes and an increase in employee’s productivity annually. It is quite unfortunate to know that Americans spend more per capita on healthcare compared to other countries yet have the worst outcomes. The Americans have a lower life expectancy, higher chronic disease burden, and the highest rate of obesity despite having more than double per-capita spend.

Employers need to be prepared for another hit of the pandemic coming, as there will be a rapid increase in the need for healthcare services that were delayed over the past few months due to the pandemic. Besides, even COVID-19 is expected to hit different regions of the country and necessitate drastic changes in the manner in which people work and live for periods of time. To ensure that the workforce remains healthy, safe, and able to work through these testing times, not much can be expected from the broken healthcare system.

It is a daunting task for people to understand what is and what is not covered under their employer-sponsored health plans. In such a scenario explanation of benefits and insurance plans are becoming easier to read and employees feel overwhelmed in making sure their procedures are covered or understanding the actual cost to them. With the second phase of pandemic expected to hit, employees will be having several queries related to COVID-19 benefits.

To derive better outcomes, employers need to develop a relationship with the employee, associate closely with the healthcare providers, and utilize the benefits of technology and machine learning to offer smart and personalized care. Intelligent technology platforms need to be developed to work directly with over 1.5 million American workforces. The health of the employees matters more now and employers are in the driver’s seat as far as making health plans and benefits decisions are concerned. As the country is gearing to restart the economy, now it becomes important to come up with a comprehensive clinical solution to ensure people return to work in a safe environment and keep them productive and healthy.

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