If you already bundle services like internet and cable, you’re familiar with the benefits: a simpler experience and usually some cost savings.
The same advantages may be available when you combine medical, behavioral, pharmacy and specialty benefits with one insurer. Connecting the coverage may create a more streamlined experience for employees and potentially lower costs for an employer.
A simpler experience
No one enjoys navigating multiple sites or sifting through ID cards when they need to access care. With bundled benefits, employees can work with a single support team who may be able to see the employee’s full care journey, which may help in:
- Addressing gaps in care
- Revealing health issues sooner
- Deciding where to go for services
- Managing chronic conditions and specialty medications
Bundled benefits that create a simpler experience may, in turn, increase an employee’s use of services and understanding of their benefits — what health care analysts refer to as engagement with the plan.
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Why is engagement important? The more engaged the employee, the healthier and more productive they may be at work. Data shows engaged employees with combined medical and behavioral benefits have 26% reduced absenteeism and 36% fewer instances of coming to work sick and, as a result, being less productive — sometimes referred to as presenteeism.1
Using data to understand health
Bundling benefits with one insurer can also put data on a common platform, which can offer employers a richer understanding of their employees’ overall health status as well as new insights into how well the health plan is performing, both in terms of supporting employees’ needs and managing health care costs.
For example, employers who bundle UnitedHealthcare benefits can use the Health Plan Manager tool to examine the general health of their employee population as well as other performance indicators. The software offers a comprehensive look at health data, which may help reveal where interventions with specific employees or overall plan design changes may improve health and, as a result, increase value.
One example is the support that can be offered to employees who experience both medical and behavioral conditions — what doctors refer to as comorbidity. In an average group of employees, 14% have medical and behavioral comorbidities, which research has found results in a total cost of care that is two times higher than other employees.2
If left untreated, behavioral conditions may make managing medical conditions more difficult. For example, an employee with depression may struggle to stay on track with the treatment plan their doctor recommended to manage their type 2 diabetes due to symptoms such as fatigue and lack of motivation.
Integrating behavioral and medical services may help reveal these sorts of issues sooner, allowing for earlier interventions that data shows may help to bring down costs. In one analysis, employers who used an integrated approach saw more than $1,000 in medical savings for employees identified as high-risk after adopting a collaborative medical and behavioral care model.3
RELATED: Integrating medical and behavioral benefits to help achieve whole-person health
Similar advantages may be realized by bundling other benefits, including better identification of chronic conditions when an employee has integrated vision benefits, and lower emergency room costs for employers who integrate pharmacy benefits.
With so many employers looking for ways to increase the value of their health benefits while creating a better experience for their employees, integrating benefits may be a strategy worth considering.
Learn more about integrated benefits.
1 Optum CSG Healthcare Analytics; Ly, Aug. 9, 2018.
2 Azocar F, Bargman EP, Smolskis JM, Groat TD. Enhanced methodology for estimating integrated medical-behavioral costs. Optum internal report Jan.2017.
3 Optum CSG Healthcare Analytics; Ly, Aug. 9, 2018