As our CEO Joel Ray pointed out in his last blog, employer-sponsored premiums have spiked by an average of 5.9 percent per year since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. But perhaps even more disturbing than mushrooming prices is this eye-opening statistic: Only 14 percent of surveyed Americans have an understanding of the most fundamental insurance concepts, including deductibles, copays, co-insurance and out-of-pocket maximums, according to Journal of Health Economics. That means the vast majority of Americans don’t understand the basics of insurance—let alone the inner workings of the ACA.
According to a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, half of 6,000 surveyed Americans said they were unaware of the exchanges set up for people to find and purchase health plans—and among the uninsured, a full 64 percent didn’t know.
Unfortunately, the ACA has failed to fix the key problem with our nation’s healthcare system. It has not taught employees to start asking questions and think about how they’re spending their healthcare dollars. Instead it just made them think, “Hey, I’m going to get free healthcare!”
Of course, this was not the goal with healthcare reform—and it’s not the way we’re going to repair one of our nation’s most major concerns.
So what’s the answer? In the face of skyrocketing prices, employees must educate themselves and pay more attention to health care costs. And it’s our job to help them do it.
Building Smarter Healthcare Consumers
I don’t believe anyone has found the perfect solution for how to make American employees more educated healthcare consumers. A lot of folks talk the big talk, but they don’t walk the walk.
However, we at New Benefits are stepping up to the plate. Many of our non-insured benefits are designed around the idea of fostering informed healthcare consumers. Our goal is to offer products that help employers and employees navigate the increasingly complex healthcare system. Our products put employees in the driver’s seat, allowing them to take control of their own healthcare.
For example, we offer a popular product called Health Advocate, which allows employees to pinpoint the most appropriate and cost-effective doctor for the type of treatment they need. This program assists employees with research to find the best solutions as opposed to settling for the first doctor their insurance company recommends.
I’m not suggesting our benefits solve all our nation’s healthcare problems—but we are doing our part to provide employees resources to navigate the healthcare system.
As a broker, employers are looking to you for advice and innovative new options in a rapidly evolving healthcare world. Let’s work together to solve your customers’ most pressing issues and educate our nation’s healthcare consumers.
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