An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
This oft-repeated proverb may have medieval roots, but it’s just as relevant in 2023 — particularly where employee health and wellness are concerned.
Studies show that prioritizing preventive healthcare and early treatment are some of the most effective ways to detect health risks that could progress into chronic disease, disability, and even death. Yet, by and large, Americans aren’t engaging in preventive or routine care services such as annual checkups, prescription medication, vision care, and dental care. Why? According to Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), 50% of American adults delayed or missed care in 2021 due to the high out-of-pocket costs associated with it.
Ultimately, however, those costs multiply and fall back on you, the employer, and your employees. When employees don’t take proactive care of themselves, they end up spending more in the long term on reactive care when conditions have become more serious. Beyond the cost of claims, you’ll also see heightened absenteeism and presenteeism rates as population health declines, both of which come with high price tags of their own.
These issues won’t resolve themselves — quite the opposite, actually. In the first two years of the global pandemic, worker absences increased by 50%, according to researchers at the Urban Institute and Boston University. If you hope to keep your workforce happy, healthy, and productive, you need to start thinking outside the box about employee benefits management that produces more equitable access to care
Financial Wellness Benefits That Truly Work for Employees
Did you know that nearly two-thirds of employees look to you, the employer, for financial support? Annual salary is just one component of the support they expect. To ensure long-term employee financial wellness, you must also offer solutions that shield employees from medical expenses, beyond simply health insurance and an HSA or FSA account.
Unfortunately, up to 117 million U.S. adults are underinsured. In other words, despite being technically enrolled in a health insurance plan, they continue to experience financial obstacles and holes in their coverage that cause them to delay or forego the care they require.
Your organization is likely already paying for a majority of health insurance premiums, so how can you improve the affordability of health expenses while keeping expenses in check? You can offer a new style of financial wellness benefits called health payment accounts (HPAs).
What is an HPA? We’re so glad you asked!
A health payment account is a type of financial wellness benefit that employers can offer to employees alongside any preexisting health insurance plan. Eligible employees who opt into Paytient’s HPA are issued a Visa card with a small credit allowance, which they can use to pay for out-of-pocket health expenses at the time of care. After each transaction, the employee selects an interest-free payment plan that suits their needs and settles the balance over time.
The benefits of an HPA are numerous, but here are two that stand out:
- HPAs help plug coverage gaps. Does your current benefits stack offer pet coverage? What about relief for steep prescription drug bills? Do employees have to select providers from within an incredibly narrow network? Do they have a way to pay for mental health care? With an HPA, your employees have the flexibility to turn unexpected or out of reach medical expenses into manageable payment plants. The card works with any provider who accepts Visa cards and falls under the covered categories (i.e., medical, mental health, pharmacy, veterinary, dental, and vision). Employees can even use their HPA to cover health costs incurred by their loved ones. No matter how you slice it, HPAs have a near unmatched level of flexibility.
- HPAs empower employees to take their health seriously. By giving employees access to patient financing through an HPA, you essentially give them financial freedom to seek routine care when they need it. After all, when medical bills become manageable expenses, rather than stressful, debt-inducing crises, employees are empowered to seek out care, huge claims are reduced, and elevated costs don’t fall back on you and your workers in the form of rising premiums. HPAs create a virtuous cycle of physical and financial wellness for employees.
It’s much easier (and less expensive) to prevent illness or catch it early than it is to treat someone after their condition has progressed. Unfortunately, existing barriers often prevent employees from getting the care they need — and the long-term consequences of delayed or skipped care are nothing to sneeze at. HR leaders who wish to disrupt this cycle should look into health payment accounts. Learn more about Paytient.