Most survey respondents expect their personal investments to do better next year.
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With family premiums rising for employer-sponsored health insurance in an inflationary environment, many employers in the New York City area want to make sure their employees get the greatest possible benefit from their healthcare. The average premium hit $23,968 this year, with workers contributing $6,575 and employers paying the balance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation Health Benefits Survey. Against the backdrop of higher costs, 44% of insured adults worry about affording their deductible before their health coverage kicks in, according to other research from KFF.
One way employers can keep costs down is by encouraging preventative care and management of chronic conditions. It’s easier to tackle healthcare challenges if they’re caught early, and routine checkups and gynecological screenings are covered by many health plans with no patient co-pay. Healthy employees, in turn, are less likely to call in sick, allowing their workplaces to stay productive.
So how can employers encourage their teams to take care of themselves, physically and mentally, and tap into the valuable benefits in their health plans? For insight, Crain’s Content Studio spoke with AnneBeth Litt, MD, Chief Medical Director, Empire BlueCross BlueShield (Empire).
CRAIN’S: Why is it important for employers to encourage employees to become more engaged with their healthcare?
ANNEBETH LITT: Keeping your employees engaged in their overall health means a happier, stronger, and more productive workforce – and one that is less likely to call in sick.
Simplifying the experience for employees and offering member engagement programs are key to making them more willing to access care. For example, ensuring your health coverage includes virtual care options allows employees to focus on their well-being in a way that fits their schedules and needs.
In addition, health plans like Empire offer health benefits integration of comprehensive medical, dental, vision, and pharmacy benefits to allow for faster identification and closure of care gaps. By taking a holistic view of your employees’ health, potential issues can be more easily identified—whether it’s not taking medications as prescribed, missing important lab tests, or skipping flu shots and other preventive screenings or wellness visits. And that leads to better health outcomes.
CRAIN’S: How much can employee engagement in healthcare reduce costs for employers?
ANNEBETH LITT: Well-implemented workplace health programs can lead to 25 percent savings on healthcare costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1 The most effective health and wellness programs are the ones employees use. That’s why it’s important to tailor your benefits to your employees’ needs. Members’ engagement with their benefits can be improved through personalized resources, digital tools, health advocacy, navigation support, and health and wellness programs. Network/benefit design can optimize employer costs through value-based care arrangements, network discounts, and high-performance and curated networks. Your health plan is your partner in promoting better health while helping to manage your healthcare dollars to keep care affordable.
CRAIN’S: What are some low-cost things employers can do to help employees optimize their well-being?
ANNEBETH LITT: One of the best ways to promote better health is by encouraging preventive care and screenings to catch emerging health issues early. A good place to start is by promoting annual primary care visits. In addition to our robust network of providers, Empire offers virtual primary care, available through our SydneySM Health mobile app. Eligible members have access to a virtual care team that conducts an initial health check-in, creates a personalized care plan, and provides services at little or no cost to the member. This is one of the many ways Empire offers access to affordable, high-quality care from preventive screenings to chronic care management.
Employee education is also a powerful tool. Wellness programs and trainings that boost prioritizing sleep, daily exercise, eating healthy food, and drinking more water will reap rewards for your employees’ health.
CRAIN’S: How can employers provide support for chronic conditions?
ANNEBETH LITT: Given that 90 percent of annual healthcare expenses are attributed to people with chronic and mental health conditions, according to the CDC, employers can achieve significant savings through improved care management.2 Your health plan can identify at-risk employees and their gaps in care, and partner with them to establish their healthcare team to support their wellness journey. This approach can lead to fewer emergency room visits, lower hospitalization rates, increased preventive screenings and employees receiving the right care at the right place at the right time.
CRAIN’S: How can employers best support their employees’ behavioral healthcare needs?
ANNEBETH LITT: Productive teams thrive in workplace cultures that value positive mental health. Many health plans now offer both in-person and virtual behavioral healthcare options and encourage members to choose in-network providers for the lowest out-of-pocket costs. Because treatment is highly individualized and personalized, having access to a comprehensive network with a variety of care options is crucial. At Empire, we have been working to bring new types of providers into our network, including virtual, outpatient, at-home, and residential behavioral health providers. By encouraging employees to use available and confidential resources, leaders can also actively work to reduce the stigma around mental health.
To view the print PDF, click HERE.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Control Health Care Costs.” Accessed at:
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Health and Economic Costs of Chronic Diseases.” Accessed at: https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/costs/index.htm
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