High deductible health plans (HDHP) can be scary for employees. For workers living paycheck to paycheck, it’s really difficult to see the upfront costs of a $4,000 family deductible as affordable.
Since more small businesses are offering HDHP’s as either a budget-friendly option or the only healthplan option, it’s critical that employees understand how to use them. Otherwise, there is a higher risk that your workers will put off medical care when they need it, because they don’t think they can afford it. And then this can lead to more problems such as lower productivity, higher absenteeism and an increase in on-the-job injuries.
Workers with high deductible plans still have difficulty affording their health care or have problems paying medical bills.Source: Kaiser Family Foundation: Data Note: Americans’ Challenges with Health Care Costs, 2019.
HDHPs usually cover preventative care at 100%, also called the wellness visit. But if the healthcare provider conducts another lab or treatment that isn’t covered under preventative care during the wellness visit, your employees could incur unexpected out-of-pocket expenses. For employees living paycheck to paycheck, this situation could make them feel like they’ve “gotten burned.”
To avoid a surprise bill and hard feelings, provide your employees with easy information about what is and isn’t covered for preventative care that they can easily refer to in the doctor’s office. For example, a paper postcard or a digital flyer.
Many employees will have specific health care concerns or prefer certain healthcare providers. A price estimator tool can help them get a good idea of what the costs could be at different providers. For example, an x-ray may cost $200 with one provider, while at another, it costs $1,500. Price-estimator tools are frequently used on health insurance websites.
You can ask your major medical insurance provider if it can provide an easy price estimator tool during enrollment.
While these tactics can be helpful for employees in understanding how their HDHPs work, the initial payments towards the deductible could still cause budget-conscious employees to worry about the costs. You can cushion the financial impact of your employee’s high deductible with voluntary benefits.
62% of HR experts agree that employees who have difficulty affording out-of-pocket health-plan costs could be more likely to report an off-the-job injury as a workplace injury.Source: IMPA-HR, Impact of Employee Out-of-Pocket Health Plan Costs on Report Workplace Accidents, 2019.
When offering voluntary benefits and if your budget allows, consider contributing a fixed monthly amount to your employees’ premiums. A monthly contribution of just $25 or $50 can both encourage enrollment and build goodwill.
Small businesses have always had to find smart ways to provide employee benefits with limited resources. But given the ongoing heath crisis and uncertain economy, it’s even more important to support your employees with information, so they can be confident that they can afford their medical care when they need it.