Learning to drive a consumer-driven health plan
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While the growing trend for employers is the move to Consumer-Driven Health Plans (a/k/a Higher Deductible Health Plans and HSA-compatible HDHPs), the flocking to or the switch to this approach depending on how it is viewed, is a decision that goes far beyond premium savings alone. While employer group benefit costs are positively impacted in the short-term by offering Consumer-Driven Health Plans as an option within their total plan design, in many cases the long-term impacts of such a change are not taken into consideration strategically.
There is learning curve with such a change that needs to be minimized in rapid fashion. Sustainability with savings and employee engagement is at risk without a strategic, longer term perspective on how such a change is implemented. For example:
Education and Communications
- How does the workforce perceive such a move and how will it impact employee engagement?
- Does the workforce understand all elements of the plan design and how to appropriate their monthly premium savings based on their specific needs and behaviors?
- Does the workforce understand their role in keeping health care costs down?
- Does the workforce have access to health advocacy programs, support and tools that enable them to feel supported and drive confidence and savings with their personal health care decisions in a real and measurable ways?
- Depending on the business’ culture, workforce initiatives and financial goals of the employer and the employees, does an FSA, HSA or HRA option make sense?
- What is the right combination of supplemental benefits (dental, vision, STD/LTD/Life, medical supplements, GAP coverage, etc.) to augment, whether voluntary of through employer contribution, the overall benefits design, costs and employee perceptions of the company?
- How can we utilize technology to effectively manage our benefits programs?
- How can our employees utilize technology (internally and that provided by the carriers) to make health care decisions and effectively control their health care spend?
There are additional procedural and compliance considerations with any benefits program. While these elements are more precautionary in nature, without these perspectives in an overall long-term strategy, lack of attention to these key components will have a direct impact on employer groups and their participants.
Implementing a Customer-Driven Health Plan approach is not enough. Employers and employees need the tools to drive them where they need to go.
DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, and based on particular situations, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice, financial advice and/or the advice of a licensed insurance or certified human resource professional.
© Connelly, Carlisle, Fields & Nichols 2012