If you require medical attention, you should be able to access it whenever, wherever, and however you’d like — regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or ideology. This notion is the core of inclusive healthcare.
While inclusive healthcare is not necessarily a new goal, it has proven elusive over the years. More than 75 years have passed since the World Health Organization named health a fundamental human right, though we still haven’t achieved true healthcare equity in the United States.
Quite the opposite has happened, unfortunately. Healthcare disparities — or health risks and outcomes that stem from social, economic, or environmental disadvantages — are quite common among some populations.
For instance, the COVID-19 pandemic was particularly detrimental for minority residents in redlined neighborhoods. They were not only more likely to be exposed to the virus, but they also tended to experience its worst effects. As a result, minorities are twice as likely as white people to die from COVID-19.
Health inequity is a formidable challenge that is most certainly impacting your workforce in some way, shape, or form. As you continue to explore how to promote diversity and inclusion in your workplace, inclusion in healthcare should remain front and center.
Here are three tips for nurturing a culture of inclusive healthcare at your workplace.
1. Understand different barriers to care.
Different populations will experience different barriers to care, so you’ll want to assess your workforce to gain an understanding of who your team members are and, ultimately, what they need from you. Take it upon yourself to research some broader trends. For starters, look into the long-standing disparities in care among different racial groups.
Then, dig a little deeper to gain a more nuanced understanding of your employees. Are any of your workers caring for children as well as aging parents? So-called “sandwich generation” workers are more common than you might think — and the responsibility of being a caregiver while working a full-time job takes a toll mentally, physically, and financially.
2. Put your knowledge to work.
Education is always a great place to start. But to truly live out an inclusive healthcare ethos, you must then shift your behaviors and language based on what you’ve learned. For instance, do your benefits materials incorporate inclusive language? Even simple edits like changing “maternity leave” to “family leave” can go a long way toward making all employees feel included in the conversation.
It’s also important to review your benefits offerings to ensure they eliminate (rather than exacerbate) barriers to care. If your insurance network doesn’t include any LGBTQIA-friendly mental healthcare providers, for instance, then your LGBTQIA employees could end up paying more out of pocket to visit those providers.
3. Diversify your benefits package.
With each passing year, the American workforce grows more and more diverse. If you hope to retain your employees, you need to communicate that you’re prepared to meet their ever-expanding range of needs — and you can do that by providing a more comprehensive benefits package.
There will always be a need for affordable healthcare plans, but you can (and should) also include nontraditional offerings that complement your core benefits. Perks like flexible PTO and even four-day workweeks help promote healthcare equity by ensuring employees can take time off for preventive doctor’s visits.
To address financial barriers to care, consider adding Paytient Health Payment Accounts (HPAs) to your benefits package. By empowering your team members to turn healthcare expenses into a series of interest-free payments, you’ll eliminate anxiety about paying for healthcare and make out-of-pocket costs more affordable. Paytient helps companies of all sizes advance inclusion in healthcare.
The United States has long been striving for better healthcare equity, though we’ve come up short over the years. For employers who are ready to make a difference for their teams, it’s time to take up the mantle of inclusion in healthcare to build a happier, healthier workforce.