We are in the thick of open enrollment season. A large percentage of employer benefit plans run on a calendar year, and now is the time that we hold employee meetings explaining any changes in employees’ benefits, answer questions, and try to reacquaint people with the inner workings of their plans. It’s a lot of ground to cover in a short period of time.
I’ve recently been reading and hearing more about the positive impact that employee education can make in claims utilization, and we’ve written about it on this blog over the years (here and here). Research demonstrates that uninformed patients are less likely to use preventive services or to properly manage their conditions, while also being more likely to have unnecessary hospital admissions and emergency room visits.
I decided to do a little informal research by asking some questions during my client open enrollment meetings this year. The first question I asked was whether anyone had used their telemedicine provider. A few hands would go up and, when I asked those individuals whether their experience had been good, the universal response was that it had been very positive.
Then I asked the same group who among them was NOT aware that they had a telemedicine option. Many hands would go up.
Telemedicine providers – or, more accurately, virtual medicine providers – cite studies that show having easy, quick access to their services can reduce health plan claims by up to 15%, primarily because they lower the number of emergency room visits and unnecessary (and expensive) diagnostic tests and hospital admissions. We blogged about telemedicine utilization earlier this year.
I did a similar survey asking whether people had ever called the 24-hour nurse line that every insurer has available. Among the hundreds and hundreds of employees I’ve spoken to in the past several weeks, not a single hand went up. Not one! Again, most had no idea there was a nurse line available to them.
My informal surveys suggest that, if employers simply did a better job of communicating the availability of resources already in place to help employees understand their health conditions and treatment options, more would use them and claim expenses would be lower. And employees would be happier and healthier.
Our experts write frequently about better ways to communicate and engage with employees on this blog, and we are here to help your company communicate professionally and meaningfully with your workforce.