One of the most important stages of health benefits strategy is laying the groundwork for the intentional design of a program. The goal of intentional design is to not only meet the needs of your employees while controlling the costs of the benefits plan, but also achieve alignment to a clearly articulated health benefits strategy and guiding principles important to your company. We work with you collaboratively throughout the entire process in a mutual partnership to achieve the most affordable and high-performing health benefits plan possible. We invite you to call us at 371.751.7049 to discuss how LHD can assist you in the intentional design of the right health benefits plan for your business.
Leveraging Data for Intentional Program Design of a Health Benefits Plan
Building a health benefits plan for your workforce is a complex undertaking but is one that LHD excels at because of our passion for leveraging data into a results-oriented array of offerings that improves employee engagement. LHD’s approach redefines what it means to be data-driven for better business decision making in a highly competitive market. You can amplify the engagement and health of your employees with a benefits plan they will love when you let the data guide the process. Employee benefits done right is our specialty, and we’re ready to put our expertise to work for your company. But being data-driven doesn’t mean qualitative research is the be-all-end-all. We also pay attention to qualitative research and data in the health benefits plan design process.
Designs for Health Plans that Make a Difference
Health benefits plan designs all have to deal with the proverbial elephant in the room, which is the ever-increasing cost factor of healthcare in the US. While the economics of healthcare feel like a constant topic in the halls of the federal government, nothing much seems to change in terms of the all-too-real cost of healthcare.
During the decade before Obamacare was passed in 2010 (the Affordable Care Act or ACA), the average cost of healthcare was increasing by around 6% each and every year. Since the ACA was passed, the annual increase has averaged around 4.3%. Many mistakenly think this decrease means healthcare has become less expensive. What it really means is that the cost of healthcare is still rising every year, but the increase each year has been a smaller increase than it used to be. The point is that healthcare costs are not going to go down. They will continue to go up every year.
We understand that a primary component of any company’s health benefits strategy is to control the cost. Too many companies, however, have only one cost management strategy: cutting benefits or increasing the cost-share to employees. This is not a sustainable strategy over time because employees will become increasingly dissatisfied with their health benefits. This in turn can result in a serious negative impact on recruitment, hiring, and retention. Our recommendation is to look into the data to find ways to design a health benefits package that will work for your employees and your business.
Collecting Data from Employees for Health Benefits Strategy and Design
LHD will examine any and all data your company has regarding the current health benefits plan you offer to employees. This data is an invaluable input to the intentional design process, but it’s also only a starting point. We will want to conduct our own research by directly surveying your employees to learn more about their views and opinions regarding the current offerings. We’ve developed an extensive bank of potential survey questions from which we draw depending on the specific context of your company, and the response categories may be varied as well. Below are some example potential questions, both quantitative and qualitative:
- Are you currently enrolled in your company’s health plan coverage? YES or NO. If not, please explain why.
- Are other members of your family (spouse, children) enrolled in your company’s health plan coverage? YES or NO. If not, please explain why.
- On a scale of 1-10 where 1 is low and 10 is high how satisfied are you with the level of health insurance provided by your employer?
- Using my health insurance has been straightforward (rate on a 1-10 scale)
- I feel confident that my healthcare insurance will meet my needs in the future (rate on a 1-10 scale)
- Were all of your previous doctors and providers in-network with the company health plan? YES or NO.
- Do you find your portion of the health plan premium to be a manageable amount? YES or NO.
- Do you feel your maximum deductible is too high? YES or NO.
- What do you feel is most important—lower costs or more provider options?
- On a scale of 1-10, how important is out-of-network coverage to you?
- Have you been satisfied with the level of customer service that you have received from the health plan provider? (list the name of your provider)
- Are you interested in an HSA-compatible plan where money is set aside from your paycheck pre-tax to help cover medical expenses?
- Do you feel confident you understand all of the employee health benefits your company offers?
- On a scale of 1-10, how important is dental insurance to you?
- On a scale of 1-10, how important is vision insurance to you?
- What do you like the most about your company’s current health benefits plan?
- What do you like the least about your company’s current health benefits plan?
- How does your current employer health plan compare to other companies at which you’ve worked? Better? Worse? Please explain.
- Do you have any additional recommendations for improving your employer’s health benefits plan?
The above questions are just a few possibilities from our extensive bank of potential questions we may want to ask of your employees to collect the type of data we need to inform the intentional design process.
Tracking Current Health Benefits Plan National Trends and Data
Context is important in Intentional Health Benefits Strategy and Design, which is why LHD tracks national and geo-specific data and trends related to employer health benefits. Here are a sampling of such data and trends that may be important consider in plan designs:
According to a recent Artemis Health Survey, “The number of HR and benefits professionals who identified improving employee health and well-being as a top goal doubled from 2019 to 2020. The focus on well-being spans every level of organizations, from top-level HR executives to on-the-ground benefits managers—and employees’ mental health is just as much of a concern for leaders as their physical health.”
In addition, “Forty-six percent of respondents said their ability to improve employee health and well-being was a measure of success in 2020, nearly three times as many as in 2019 (17%).” Trends like these are important because they indicate, in this case, a much more hands-on approach to actively increasing the health of employees and doing so takes a particular kind of approach to health and wellness programming within your benefits plan design.
The host of issues that has arisen as a result of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic will impact health benefits plans for years to come, in part because of lasting mental health impacts as described in a recent HR Executive article.
Other interesting trends we are watching include individual health care exchanges (the evolution of Obamacare); individual coverage healthcare reimbursement arrangements (ICHRAs); personalization of health benefits (what younger workers want versus what older workers want); telehealth offerings (including for mental health); the rise of pricing transparency in healthcare; and many more. LHD stays up-to-date on trends and data in the health benefits industry so you don’t have to.
Clarifying Strategy, Goals, Objectives, and Guiding Principles
With the data we collect and the trends we track, LHD can then have an informed discussion with your company about what you wish to accomplish with your health benefits plan. What are your goals and objectives? How will your company culture be reflected in plan design? What are the values and guiding principles that need to influence plan design? What is the overarching strategy that will help you accomplish all of these? It’s important to clarify all this to achieve alignment and design a high-performing health benefits plan to get the results you seek.
One thing we deeply understand at LHD is that there is no such thing as one-size-fits-all. A cookie cutter approach simply won’t work. Everything we do is customized to the specific context of your business based on real data and benchmarked against your industry in your location, as well as national trends. Call us now at 371.751.7049 to start the conversation about transforming health benefits at your company.