Employees want more help understanding their health care coverage

Consider the cost: Lost productivity rings up to as much as $225.8 billion annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a lot of cost for employers, but if they don’t get more involved in their employees’ health, those workers will become even more disenchanted with their bosses on the subject than they already are.

So says a new study from Maestro Health, “What Employees Are Thinking About Healthcare—And why their employer needs to step it up,” which reports among other findings the news that 62 percent of employees feel their employer does not serve as a resource for their health care-related questions.

Employers may think they’re doing a lot, but that’s not how employees see it; 44 percent of employees say their employer doesn’t offer opportunities beyond health benefits for employees to meet their health goals. And despite whatever educational efforts employers make regarding employee benefits, 35 percent of employees either only somewhat understand, don’t understand or know nothing about their health care coverage.

In addition, 33 percent of respondents don’t understand their medical bills—which can be pretty scary, given the way the cost of care keeps escalating.

“In the U.S., we spend more than $10,000 per person per year on health care, which adds up to more than $3.5 trillion. This is double what most other countries spend, yet regrettably, our average life expectancy is the shortest,” says Maestro Health CEO Rob Butler.

Butler adds, “The market is at a tipping point. Understanding what people need and want when it comes to health care and benefits—and arming consumers with the tools to enhance their literacy—will help us improve consumers’ individual health outcomes and reverse those life expectancy statistics.”

And about those health care costs: 68 percent of respondents say that the cost of health care has increased in the past three years. As employees try to contain those costs, 39 percent of respondents have chosen not to go to the doctor just in the past year.

Employees aren’t the only ones getting hosed on medical expenses, the report points out; health care is costing employers plenty, too. Figures from the CDC indicate that productivity losses from missed work cost employers $225.8 billion, or $1,685 per employee, each year.

If they want to get a handle on the situation, says the report, employers need to become more involved and boost the quality of health benefits.

“Unique knowledge of an employee base affords employers the opportunity to play a critical role in keeping employees happy and healthy while, at the same time, improving bottom lines,” says Maestro Health CHRO Sheryl Simmons.

Simmons adds, “It is critical for more employers to think about how they can further advance their benefits programs to deliver better health outcomes at a lower cost for all.”

Posted 11:00 AM

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