Crises have a funny way of bringing other problems to light. For the past two years, we’ve been riding a continuous carousel of major revelations. The toll and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, sent the whole world into a tailspin. However, it sharply exposed some deep-rooted issues within the American healthcare system.
Despite paying more for health insurance than any other developed nation, many Americans still lack access to affordable care and, on average, experience worse health outcomes. In particular, Americans who belong to racial and ethnic minority groups are disproportionately impacted by the virus thanks to myriad inequities in social determinants of health. It should come as no surprise that more than one-third of American adults would describe the U.S. healthcare system as “below average” — a 40% increase compared with pre-pandemic numbers.
If you think this problem is beyond your scope of influence, think again. Nearly half of American workers get their insurance coverage through their employers, but merely offering an employer-sponsored health plan isn’t going to cut it. To promote equal access to healthcare, employers must rethink how they design their compensation and benefits packages.
Promoting Equal Access to Healthcare: A Moral and Business Imperative
What does “equity in healthcare” look like? It means every person on your team — regardless of their gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, age, or ability — has an equally effective chance to access affordable healthcare. Yet when even fully insured Americans face disparities in care, achieving equal access to healthcare starts to feel impossible.
And certainly, we’re up against a big problem. According to a McKinsey & Co. survey, nearly two-thirds of all full-time employees have experienced at least one unmet basic need; about 66% of LGBTQ+ employees have experienced two or more unmet basic needs. Even when controlling for income, there are still disparities among people of color: Almost 70% of employees of color with less than $100,000 in household earnings have experienced two or more unmet basic needs in the past year, compared to only 49% of white respondents in the same pay range.
In other words, even well-compensated employees are struggling to find, receive, and afford basic healthcare — despite participating in their employer-sponsored plans. Research has long established the tie between comprehensive health benefits and on-the-job satisfaction; McKinsey confirms that at least 30% of Black, Hispanic and Latino, LGBTQ+, and younger employees have thought about resigning from their jobs due to inadequate benefits.
Even if employees stick around, the negative impacts of health inequity can seep into your workplace. McKinsey reports that people of color are more likely to miss six or more workdays for health-related reasons than the overall employee population, with LGBTQ+ respondents less likely to feel their existing benefits package demonstrates that their employer cares about them.
A Good Benefits Package Can Move the Affordability Needle
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when facing such an enormous problem. But you can help increase equality in healthcare by taking steps to make care more affordable for your team. Don’t worry, no one is going to ask you to start paying for all of your employees’ care — that’s unrealistic and cost-prohibitive.
One common suggestion for employers that offer high-deductible health plans is to match participants’ health savings account (HSA) contributions. In theory, these tax-advantaged savings accounts help employees save for significant out-of-pocket medical expenses by setting aside pre-tax dollars from their monthly paychecks. But in reality, HSAs only benefit employees who already have the means to pay for their care, which is a relatively small percentage of the workforce. Therefore, offering HSA contributions and nothing else could end up increasing the gap in equal access to healthcare.
Instead, consider adding Paytient to your existing health plan to plug glaring affordability holes. Offering Paytient as a benefit doesn’t significantly increase costs on the employer’s end, and it empowers employees to obtain the care they need because they don’t have to worry about how to pay the associated bills. Paytient participants simply swipe their cards at the time of care and then choose how much time they would like to pay that amount through incremental payroll deductions. Better yet, transactions through Paytient come with 0% APR interest and no fees — ever.
Paytient isn’t just for run-of-the-mill doctor’s visits, either. Here’s a quick breakdown of how most Paytient members use their cards:
- 30% of transactions cover clinic or hospital visits.
- 40% cover pharmacy purchases (e.g., OTC medications or prescription drugs).
- 30% cover a mixture of veterinary, dental, and vision-related costs.
As an employer, promoting equity in healthcare is your duty — and you have more power than you think. By designing a good benefits package that helps your employees meet their basic needs, you’ll not only support health equity among employees, but you’ll also build a happier, healthier, and safer work environment for years to come.