How To Turn Employees Into Smart Health Care Consumers

The term “smart health care consumer” has become increasingly popular in recent years. Now more than ever, employers are starting to understand the importance of helping their employees make informed health care decisions – but few know how to do it.

How can employers help employees become smart health care consumers?

As an employer, you have a unique opportunity to educate your employees on a variety of important topics, in a variety of ways, such as face-to-face meetings, through email, on a company intranet site or message boards. Plus, employees tend to be more actively engaged with information that comes from their employer rather than a third party, such as an insurance carrier. The most important thing you can do is use this opportunity to educate your employees to help them become smart health care consumers.

What topics should employees be educated about?

A great place to focus your efforts is on the company health plan. Consider educating employees on common health care terms, such as deductible, co-payment and co-insurance. You should also educate employees on the specifics of the health plan(s) your company offers, including a detailed benefit and cost analysis to help them decide which plan is best for them.

Employees also need to be educated about the best way to use their plan. This includes knowing the importance of staying in-network, how to find an in-network doctor and where to go for emergency care. Employers should talk to their insurance carrier or network partner about the materials available to educate their employees on these topics.

What about after an employee picks their plan?

After employees have selected their health plan, you should switch your focus to sharing information about how to use the health plan effectively. Some topics to consider include where to go for care, the importance of shopping around before selecting medical services, and the availability of tools such as a provider finder, corporate discounts, or a telemedicine program. All of these topics can help employees make informed decisions about using their benefits.

When is the best time to educate employees?

It’s always a good time to educate your employees. Don’t make the mistake of stopping education after open enrollment. Instead, consider developing a calendar with educational topics to talk to employees about throughout the year. Monthly or even bi-weekly is a great schedule for educating employees and reminding them about free tools and extras.

It is also important to encourage employees to ask questions, so FAQ and Q&A sessions are good options to consider. You should check with your carrier or network partner to see what resources are available, as many offer pre-developed educational materials and timelines.

This blog was originally published by HealthLink.