by Amy O’Meara Chambers, JD, COO and Co-founder of HealthBridge and author of “Health Savings Accounts for DUMMIES“
A financial security benefit that helps employees pay for and manage their out of pocket healthcare expenses allows an employer to not only keep healthcare costs down, but to provide a much-needed benefit to their employees, one that pays dividends for years to come.
Here are 4 reasons why employers need to provide a financial security benefit to their employees as part of their offering.
1. Restore the “benefit” in your health benefit offering.
The standard employer-sponsored health plan comes with nearly an $8,000 out-of-pocket expense. Considering that the vast majority of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck and 40% struggle to cover a $400 emergency expense, it’s no wonder why so many individuals consider themselves functionally uninsured despite being covered by an employer’s health plan. And, when an employer’s price tag to purchase that insurance for a family now exceeds $20,000 a year, it is painful for employers to witness their employee “benefit” suddenly become an employee “liability.” Providing employees with guaranteed access to credit for medical expenses on consumer-friendly terms that they may not have access to on their own is of tremendous benefit. A benefit like this gives employees something their health plan alone can’t – financial security.
2. Remove barriers to care.
More than ever, employees with high deductible health plans are skipping care, which has costly consequences. Employees who skip care stay sicker for a longer period of time and as a result, employers lose worker productivity. When outcomes erode and care is delayed, employers will see an increase in health plan expenses. By providing a financial security benefit from the start, employees can seek care with confidence, and prevent this unhealthy ripple effect from happening.
3. Increase participation in Health Savings Accounts.
HSAs are great additions to an employer’s benefit line-up. In some cases, they are also the only plan design that an employer can afford to offer. Employees who are presented the choice of an HSA often bemoan that while the program should work well for them, and that the price-tag for the premium is right, the specter of a one-time deductible exposure makes them hesitant to enroll. And, while lower premiums paired with some employer HSA contributions can often cover that exposure, employees worry about the timing of these expenses, particularly if they arrive early in the plan year. Providing an affordable way for employees to pay for their healthcare expenses whenever they are incurred, removes a major barrier to HSA plan election. Further, adding a financial security benefit is much more cost effective for the employer than front-loading the HSA with hard dollars at the beginning of the plan year.
4. Recruitment and Retention Tool.
According to a recent Gallup poll, the availability and affordability of healthcare tops the list of concerns in America. As employers grapple with objectives, such as attracting, and retaining talent and balancing costs, a financial security benefit not only addresses a major employee concern, but also can help organizations differentiate themselves from their competitors.
With COVID changing the landscape of healthcare for all of us and open enrollment around the corner, employers need to rethink their benefit strategy while keeping costs down. Attracting and retaining employees remains a high priority for employers and providing a financial security benefit will not only attract top talent but will also save on an employer’s overall bottom line.
Amy Chambers is the CEO and Co-founder of HealthBridge. She has over 25 years of experience working in the healthcare industry as both an employee benefits attorney and as a business builder. Amy is the author of the great American novel — “Health Savings Accounts for DUMMIES” and holds a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and a B.A. from the University of Chicago.