When choosing health care options as a business, many financial decision-makers stick with traditional health care benefits from providers either known by the organization or suggested by brokerages. Yet, according to a Maestro Health survey, 70% of Americans feel today’s health care system is difficult to navigate. This begs to question whether traditional health care benefit providers are offering the best options for people and businesses.

One positive change coming out of the recent global pandemic is that people have become more open to seeking virtual health care solutions, either as a first appointment or as a substitute for traditional, in-person care. This has highlighted to the marketplace that there are genuine ways of receiving experienced, thoughtful, and quality medical attention virtually.

With the open enrollment period underway, it’s become crucial for companies to again consider these drastic health care changes caused by the pandemic. Here is why financial leaders should consider including virtual first care options when planning for 2022 and in open enrollment plans:

Patients have embraced virtual care

Traditional “brick and mortar” health care providers might be the first option available and sometimes are the best option, but if the health care marketplace is truly a consumer marketplace, traditional providers need not be the only options available. There are ways to rethink health care benefits as a business, and virtual care is already proving to be an effective and growing option that should be offered to businesses as a key component of their health benefit plans.

A national survey from the Bipartisan Policy Center and Social Sciences Research Solutions examined feedback from experiences with telehealth services and found that over 90% of adults surveyed were satisfied with the quality of their telehealth visit and would be likely to use telehealth in the future. The survey also found that eight in 10 people resolved their primary health issue with a telehealth visit.

While research will be conducted for years to come about the effectiveness of telehealth during and after the pandemic, this early survey shows strong indicators that virtual and virtual-first health care is effective and even preferred as a new solution.

The time for innovation in health care is ripe. Businesses should be reimagining their existing health care benefit offerings by exploring emerging health care options in the next few years as the health care marketplace changes.

Consider your costs

When rethinking the overall future of health care options, consider also the costs associated with traditional vs. new methods. Across the board, the cost of traditional health care has increased over time for businesses and employees. Traditional health benefit plans also do not always meet individual needs, overcomplicating the health care journey and making it difficult for many people to seek care.

Virtual-first care as an option offers several financial benefits both on the provider side and on the patient side. For health care providers, virtual visits are less expensive to administer with less administrative overhead. Doctors can also see more patients virtually, which is key for first line of care – imagine the sheer amount of emergency room wait time that could be cut by virtual-first providers giving hurt or sick patients fast and informed direction about the best care pathway.

Virtual care can help organizations save thousands of dollars in health care costs because virtual visits cut down on the amount of time employees spend out of office at in-person appointments. At the same time, employees can be more proactive and engaged with their health care options with virtual appointments easier to book and easier to attend.

With benefits on both sides, providing affordable, virtual-first health care within your organization’s health benefit plan will ensure a more satisfied, and, in effect, productive workforce.

Can virtual care help fix a broken system?

Many businesses simply don’t know that they have options when selecting health benefit plans. Educating leaders, especially finance leaders, is important to changing the way companies work with insurers to find options that work best for the business and employees.

Over time, businesses that save on health care costs can better allocate capital toward key strategic business initiatives, such as employee compensation and company resources for employees. If leaders can reduce the cost of health care for our employees, presumably, employers can put those savings back into the pockets of their employees.

This is why leaders need to be more proactive when working with their health benefits broker this enrollment season. It is entirely okay to ask questions about emerging health care options or even challenge the broker if the options presented don’t work best for the company or employees. Finance leaders at companies of all sizes should be well-versed in these competing plan options.

Leaders should also focus on educating their employees about navigating the health care system to become more informed consumers. With better patient-provider relationships and a more educated marketplace of health care consumers, it is possible to mend a few broken pieces in our health care system and, at the same time, create efficiency and savings opportunities for businesses offering health benefit plans.

Darryl Baker is CFO of Redirect Health.

From: https://www.benefitspro.com/2021/12/08/open-enrollment-2022-why-you-should-consider-virtual-first-care-options/

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