A child reading up about healthcare
Employee Benefits

Understanding the 3 Vital Health Literacies in Employee Benefits

Dr. Scott Conard
Dr. Scott Conard
Holmes Murphy

The U.S. healthcare system is condemned to fail when those it’s meant to serve don’t understand what to do, with whom to do it, or how to pay for it.

I understand, that’s a pretty powerful statement. But, it is indeed true. Allow me to explain a bit.

The Importance of Shifting Your Employee Benefits Strategy

Healthcare employee benefits continue to become more expensive without improving the wellbeing or longevity of Americans, yet most companies continue to do the same thing year after year. As an advisor and employee benefits consultant, it’s dumbfounding to watch this occur for the second or third highest cost at most companies.

Why don’t companies pivot, shift to new strategies, and improve this situation when it’s estimated by the Institute of Medicine that 30-50 percent of the money being spent is fraud, waste, and abuse?

It goes without saying that if companies knew what they could do to reduce these costs, they would do it. Thus, to empower this shift, we need to have an initial conversation about what it would take for employees to use health employee benefits differently and a shift in what we are attempting to provide with employee benefits.

When a doctor looks at medical and pharmaceutical claims data, it quickly becomes evident that most ​using the healthcare system—while doing their best—are receiving inconsistent, incomplete, and highly variable care.

Unsure of the best path forward​, they enter the healthcare system a myriad of ways — from primary care to emergency rooms — and often, must make several attempts to get their needs met. Tragically, by the time they get appropriate care, they have often suffered significant medical and financial consequences.

The Three Health Literacies You Need to Know

What would it take to correct this? It starts with the person receiving care. Every person must be equipped with basic skills and knowledge to have a fighting chance of success.

  1. This begins with an understanding of their personal health situation and what to do for their health — self-care health literacy.
  2. Second, they must understand the healthcare system and how to use it — health system literacy.
  3. Finally, they must know how their health benefits work and how they will pay for their care — health benefits literacy.

Said another way, at the end of the day, no one eats, drinks, sleeps, seeks help, gets screening, takes medication, exercises, or manages stress but the individual. They must have a functional level of self-care, healthcare system, and health benefit literacy, and play an active and informed role to receive high quality, appropriate cost care.

A healthcare employee benefits strategy that fails to acknowledge and address the role of the individual through education, support, and accountability will continue to get what they have now — an increasing cost and highly variable quality of healthcare. Addressing and putting services and programs in place to build these literacies begins to correct this challenge and move a company into a much more successful and functional strategy.

Reach out to us and let us know how we can help you get to where you need to be with your employee benefits program! We have a lot of knowledge on our staff and would love to talk with you about your concerns and needs.

Explore more from Holmes Murphy