3 Ways to Create Savvy Health Care Shoppers

Navigating the world of insurance can be confusing and difficult, especially for busy health care consumers. Employers have the challenging job of engaging and educating employees to make sure they know how their plans work so they can get the most value out of their benefits.

This is where your communication efforts come in. The common messages employees receive focus on staying in-network, knowing where to go to get the right type of care, using generic medications and mail order services to save money on prescriptions, and receiving free in-network preventive care.

While these messages are essential, it’s time to think outside the box and get creative!

1.   Once Upon a Time

People love stories. It’s why we look through reviews on restaurants or products before we make a decision. We want to hear other people’s experiences and get insider tips. You can easily do this for benefits too.

If your company uses a health advocacy service, share testimonials of how others have used the service. Give concrete examples, such as a personal health advocate saving a member $800 on an MRI by researching options, or the service resolving a billing issue for a member, saving them hundreds of dollars and hours of their time.

The same approach can work for the employee assistance program and telemedicine services. While all personal information is kept confidential, these carriers may be able to share general information or examples without violating privacy policies.

Keeping these services at the top of your employees’ minds will encourage higher utilization, which leads to bigger cost savings. Here are some ways you can share these personal stories:

  • Add a hashtag to your slack channel.
  • Feature stories on Yammer.
  • Include a section in your monthly wellness newsletter.

2.   Look Outside Your Carriers

Your benefit plans are a good place to start, but there are a broad range of websites that are available to everyone, regardless of place of employment.

GoodRx

This free program lets you compare prices, find free coupons, and save on medications. Employees can be confident that they are paying the lowest prices at nearby pharmacies.

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

NIMH offers low and no-cost mental health resources for individuals and their families. Crisis help, brochures, fact sheets, clinic trial information, and education and awareness materials can be found at www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help.

FSA & HSA Stores

The FSA Store gives Health Care Flexible Spending Account participants a hassle-free platform to purchase over 4,000 eligible items, such as over-the-counter medications, blood pressure monitors, COVID-19 tests, and personal care supplies. With coupons and discounts available, your employees can use their dollars on the things they need and have them shipped right to their door.

Just like the FSA store, the HSA Store curates HSA-eligible products for easy purchase. No receipts are needed!

3.   Ask Questions

Being your own advocate is essential to ensuring you receive quality care. With medical professionals stretched thin, it’s more important than ever to know the right questions to ask, especially when it comes to staying in-network for care.

Here’s a helpful list of questions to ask to make sure you stay in-network – everywhere and every time you seek care.

Ask your primary doctor:

  • Do I need any lab work or other screenings? If so, is the lab you are referring me to in my plan’s network? If not, can you send me (or my samples) to a lab in my network?
  • Will I need to see a specialist for follow-up care? Is the specialist you’re referring me to in my plan’s network? If not, can you refer me in-network instead?

Before a scheduled procedure:

  • Are all healthcare professionals involved in the procedure in my plan’s network?
  • Is the facility where the procedure will be performed in my plan’s network?
  • What tests will I need?
  • Are there less expensive tests that are just as effective that could be done instead?

The Takeaway

Helping your employees be wise health care consumers should happen all year long, not just during Open Enrollment. Start by incorporating short bursts of information, particularly focusing on personal stories, and connect employees with valuable resources along the way. You, and they, will reap the rewards for years to come.

Ready to help employees better navigate the healthcare landscape? We’d love to help.

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