More employers integrating healthcare benefits

More employers are actively integrating or considering integrating their medical, pharmacy, dental, vision and/or disability benefits under their health and wellness programs in the next five years thanks to the positive impact on employees, a study from Anthem found. In fact, the new design in integrated healthcare benefits is creating better care, lower costs and a more satisfied workforce for all employers, the study found.

Of 222 employers with more than 100 employees, 71 percent are working on integrating healthcare benefits in the next five years––an 11 percent rise from the study conducted in 2016.

Integrated healthcare (IHC) is an employee benefits strategy driven by big data that connects pharmacy, dental, vision, disability and absence management data to an employer’s health management program. The strategy is in contrast to siloed care delivery, with services offered through different carriers.

Some of this increase is driven by a “happiness factor,” according to Anthem, with 88 percent of employers agreeing that integrated healthcare benefits improve the appeal of their workplace.

“The cost and ease of administration remain important business imperatives to employers, but there is a noticeable shift to creating and retaining a more satisfied and healthier workforce as a driver toward integration,” the study read.

Moreover, many employers agree that integrating healthcare for employees is “the right thing to do,” and many initiate their programs simply for this reason, the study found. Since 2016, 11 percent more employers said they don’t measure the success of their integrated healthcare programs, they just feel it is the right thing to do. Overall, 55 percent said they measure engagement of members in the program.

“It’s clear that the impacts of employee health and benefits extend beyond the medical care costs,” Nick Brecker, president of Anthem’s Specialty Business, said in a statement. “Employees and employers are looking for solutions that connect medical care with pharmacy, dental, vision, disability and other benefits programs, so that employees can get the support they need to improve their overall wellbeing, satisfaction and productivity.”

Employee engagement in these programs is still a critical factor, and more employers are looking for digital support. The majority––89 percent––of employers would like their health plan to include a mobile app and 88 percent agreed apps are important to engaging employees in their health.

For employers, the payoff of an integrated healthcare program is retainment and recruitment of employees in an increasingly tight labor market. And only 12 percent of employers said they found the process of an IHC program very challenging, according to the study. More than half––52 percent––found the process somewhat challenging, while 30 percent said it was not very challenging and 7 percent said it was not at all challenging.