John Acardo, Assistant Vice President for Human Resources at North Central College shares his insights on the changing benefits landscape for employers.
So, it’s happened. Millennials are changing the shape of the health insurance landscape — arguably for the better. On July 9, 2018 The Society for Human Resource Management published an article focusing on the trends in the insurance industry that are being shaped by the consumeristic habits of the younger generations — and the insurance giants are responding.
For years, your broker or health insurance consultants have been [or should have been] talking to you about creating a health insurance program that makes your employees a ‘smarter’ consumer of the medical treatment they receive. This has shifted the industry away from the HMO and PPO model to the High Deductible Insurance landscape. The general inclination being that with higher deductibles and smarter choices made by the participant, will lead to lower-cost healthcare choices. With a whole lot of participant education, that has happened.
The next step in this education process is finding not only low-cost, but high-quality providers.
In the past, it used to be based on word-of-mouth referrals. Now the health insurance industry is taking note of who the younger generations are turning to for referrals: HealthGrades or RateMDs. These programs have already been allowing participants to ‘rate’ and share their experiences of doctors.
When applied against their own preferred provider network, insurers are realizing the power and influence that their own members can provide in selecting, low-cost and high-quality providers.
Creating a Whole Package
In general, the younger generations now entering the workforce have been exposed to a benefit structure that is not as rich as they had been. These generations are doing their homework and packaging lower-cost premium plans with Accident and Catastrophic Illness programs to make their dollar go further when selecting an insurance plan that can meet their budget.
How Can Employer’s Keep Up?
Of course every organization has its own unique identity and culture, but employers should take note of this shift and explore ways that make sense to them in capitalizing on this discovery.
If employers haven’t seen what the insurers have been up to with technology — just ask. Insurers have pumped millions into the development of integrated mobile apps that give participants access to their own health information, the ability rate and review providers, find the lowest cost option, and even talk with health professionals through video or telephonic systems.
Taking time to understand these technologies and how packaging together several lines of insurance may help employees find insurance needs that meet their budget and won’t spell financial ruin if a medical event occurs; and will help employers continue to find ways to stabilize the cost of medical insurance. The enticement of stabilization or even lower medical premium costs is too great an opportunity not to explore further.