This week, Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and Greenwald Research published the findings of their "2020 Consumer Engagement in Healthcare Survey". Reflecting the aggregated insights of approximately 2,000 privately-insured participants surveyed in Q3 2020, this report offers insight into how employees like yours may think about and approach healthcare in 2021. We boiled down this 36-page report to its four most important insights for HR leaders, and what you can do about them:
1. Only Half of Those Surveyed Are Willing to Receive a COVID-19 Vaccine
Only 55% of adults with private health insurance are willing to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and a quarter of respondents said they are not willing to receive a vaccine. Now, keep in mind that this survey took place in Q3 2020, before the exhaustive evaluations, approvals, and growing media coverage of COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and availability. So, the Nava team expects that this number will increase as the year progresses.
What this means for you: Evaluate the role a COVID-19 vaccine plays in your back-to-work plans. If it's an essential part of a safe return to the office, design a communication calendar that incorporates key statistics, geographical availability, insurance coverage information, and even showcases success stories from fellow colleagues and members of your leadership team who've received the vaccine.
2. Employees Are Putting Off Needed Care
The use of healthcare services among those privately insured dropped, with 1 in 5 adults delaying their medical care as a result of COVID-19. While many of those people made plans to reschedule care, 19% noted that they simply will not reschedule a procedure they anticipated needing before the pandemic struck.
What this means for you: Expect employees to catch up on preventative and routine care, which means anticipating and budgeting for an increase in medical claims in 2H 2021. Help your employees get the preventative care they may have deferred by reminding them of the benefits they have, and giving them increased flexibility to get those appointments scheduled. And, consider deploying employee advocacy tools like Rightway to not only remove friction in the navigation and scheduling of overdue care, but to also proactively encourage high- or rising-risk populations to get the care they need.
3. COVID-19 Is a Turning Point for Telemedicine Interest and Adoption
As Nava CEO & co-founder Brandon Weber noted in this 2021 prediction, this may finally be the year that telemedicine becomes mainstream. Based on this survey, it looks like it will be as 40% of adults said they or a family member had at least 1 telemedicine appointment in 2020 — that's double the respondents compared to 2017. And, two-thirds of those virtual visits are happening with providers they're already familiar with, versus through a dedicated telemedicine offering. Lastly, the percentage of those surveyed who reported that telemedicine was an extremely important option for getting medical care nearly doubled between 2017 and 2020.
What this means for you: Ensure your employees have low-friction ways to access healthcare (and their benefits information), virtually. If your medical plans already include a telemedicine provider or option, dig into how much your employees know about, use, and are satisfied with the offering, and leverage those learnings during your next benefits renewal conversation.
4. Adults Are Confidently Navigating Their High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs)
Not only are the number of adults enrolled in HSA-eligible health plans and health reimbursement arrangements rising, but those individuals are demonstrating savvier healthcare shopping behaviors. Compared to people in traditional plans, those in an HDHP were more likely to verify care or medication coverage, check, discuss, and compare the price of a visit or procedure, opt for a generic vs. brand-name drug, and actively budget their health care expenses.
What this means for you: If you're not offering an HSA-eligible plan, look into doing so during your upcoming renewal conversation. If you are offering the choice of an HDHP, continue to educate your employees on what it is, how it works, and how it could benefit them. Intelligent healthcare plan selector tools like Alex are great resources to guide employees towards the plans that make the most sense for them and their families, based on historical and anticipated medical needs. Additionally, ensure that all employees have the knowledge and tools at their disposal to evaluate and compare medical costs so they can make smarter — and often, more wallet-friendly — medical decisions.