The lodging and hospitality industry spans a range of employee types from hourly wage earners and seasonal staff to salaried team members. Providing health insurance and other benefits can be a challenge for organizations, but companies that figure out how to offer health insurance with real benefits will also gain a great incentive to help boost employee morale and retention rates. The question is how to do it.

While on-the-job safety and training is always a concern, lodging industry service workers can and do suffer from work-related injuries. Many positions require physical exertion, opening the door to potential injury and liability—especially among housekeeping, laundry, and maintenance workers.

Combine a higher rate of injuries with the struggle to provide affordable health insurance, and it’s a recipe for disaster. On-the-job injury rates drive eMod score increases, which are, in turn, tied to premiums. Since premiums for workers’ compensation continue to rise, it’s a good time to examine major drivers of this trend.

As employees are hit with significant increases to their employer-sponsored health plans, more will opt out of health insurance entirely. High premiums—and even higher deductibles and copays—must be met by the insured before the plan will pay out. When money is already tight, many will risk going without insurance.

As the system stands now, traditional health insurance will likely become more expensive, which means that workers’ compensation premiums will skyrocket due to the ripple effect. For employees that decline health insurance coverage, workers’ compensation plans can too often become the de-facto route to access healthcare.

For example, an employee is at home working in the yard on Sunday afternoon and hurts their back. When they return to work Monday morning, it’s likely the employee will hurt their back again while working. Or perhaps an existing injury that wasn’t treated properly in the first place makes them more susceptible to reinjury. Situations like the one described could potentially be avoided by delivering access to high-quality, low-cost healthcare plans that allow employees to get the care they need, which, in turn, negates the need to potentially abuse the worker’s comp plan for off-job injuries.

How can lodging organizations balance the increasing cost of healthcare for employees while maintaining control over their worker’s comp premiums?

Begin by laying a strong foundation. Choose a plan that delivers meaningful access to healthcare for employees. Lodging and hospitality industry employees work long hours and often can’t find off-hours to visit a doctor. Realistically, many common health problems can be treated without ever setting foot in the doctor’s office. In-office care can also be a challenge for many workers, especially when there is a copay. A national survey revealed that 40 percent of Americans say they didn’t go to a doctor in the last 12 months due to costs, and another 32 percent said they didn’t fill a needed prescription due to cost. To address this issue, consider plans that offer unlimited telemedicine visits and in-office primary care, lab work, and chiropractic care for a $0 copay and no-deductible.

The result of improving healthcare plans is significantly reduced turnover, and ultimately, lower workers’ compensation rates. Happier, healthier workers create a healthier bottom line.


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