Integrated healthcare benefits need of the hour
While it is essential to keep eye on industry trends, what works for one company may not work for the other
The need of the hour is integrated healthcare benefits that may enhance productivity, produce healthier and happier employees. In India, organizations are waking up to its benefits. Also, they have started to lay emphasis on its value derived from the cost. The success of such initiatives largely depends on these three important aspects and some of the trends being noticed in its sphere:
Focus on value-based benefits
Strategically, companies need to worry about employee healthcare cost as much as its objectives and results. Globally, this has brought more focus on value-based benefits. This approach focuses on benefits design that is value oriented; it encourages building health benefits around medical conditions (which may differ from organization to organization) rather than including uncoordinated, mandatory packages, which do not focus on achieving anything. In other words, it recommends useful interventions and does away with unnecessary interventions, thus helping a company save cost. This approach is beneficial for both employees and employers. It helps employees get recommended care and helps employers get value for the cost in the form of improved health outcomes.
Voluntary benefits are another way to reduce unnecessary expenditure. For this, employers can replace some of the employer-paid benefits with voluntary benefits, which require employees to share the cost. Introducing some additional voluntary benefits (dental insurance etc.) is a great way to make the health benefits bouquet more attractive for employees. Not only will it give employees the freedom to choose a service, which is beneficial for them at institutional pricing, it will save employers spending extra over mass packages, which everyone might not find useful.
Tailored healthcare products
While it is essential to keep an eye on industry trends, when it comes to healthcare benefits, what works for one company may not work for the other. Companies have different budgets, different objectives and most importantly, different workforce; only a benefit designed around all of these factors will achieve results for a company.
Step one is to have clarity about what a company wants to achieve through these benefits: Is it to attract and retain good employees, improve employee well-being, improve productivity, or reduce absenteeism and/or presenteeism etc. Clarity about the objective makes it easier to design effective healthcare benefits. The second step is to use evidence-based analysis to figure out health and lifestyle problems that need to be addressed to improve company productivity. This will require data-driven approach to identify health risks and chronic conditions. The third step is to design cost-efficient interventions that help address the identified problems and drive employee engagement. The benefits bouquet must be a mix of mass packages as well as customized benefits designed to address health and lifestyle problems in small cohorts. Employee Assistant Programmes (EAP), voluntary benefits paid by employees and a few mandatory initiatives that may affect the entire workforce should be thoughtfully planned and included in the offerings.
Using healthcare benefits for employer branding
Any health intervention cannot be successful without employee participation. This is where the communication and positioning of health benefits comes into play. Healthcare is a long-term project; many companies are realizing that it could be used for employee engagement and for employer branding. Though the former is seeing some serious initiatives, companies are only beginning to position healthcare benefits for employer branding and the first step towards that is to position it strongly within the organization. However, this is a trend that is sure to gain speed. This requires opening feedback channels with employees, giving the program an identity and launching it in a big way is another way to give it an easy recall value. Communication regarding interventions is critical to build awareness and get the employees talking about it.