Benefit Insights for 2021 & Beyond
Are you prepared for the long-term effects of COVID-19 on your health plan?
Most health plans saw an overall reduction in cost in 2020 despite significant increases related to respiratory conditions caused by COVID-19. While this reduction may appear to point toward a healthier workforce (due to decreased contact with germs and illness) on the surface, digging a bit deeper reveals that many simply put off or avoided vital treatment and care.
Because of COVID-19 concerns, an estimated 41% of U.S. adults delayed or avoided medical care including urgent or emergency care and routine care.*
The deferment of care may not be initially life-threatening, but could lead to serious health implications, pain, and greatly increase future plan costs.
What does this mean for the employees on your health plan?
- Existing chronic conditions will become worse without regular treatment and the probability of related complications increases.
- The emergence of new chronic conditions can be missed and go undiagnosed and untreated.
- Routine screenings for things like breast and colon cancer are missed, resulting in delayed detection.
- Existing behavioral health treatments are interrupted, and a greater segment of the population is at risk for such disorders.
All of these add up to greater future costs for your health plan. While this may all seem overwhelming, there are ways to prepare for this increased cost and mitigate the effects on your health plan.
- Increase access to virtual care
One of the biggest things your organization can do to help your employees and lower plan costs is to increase access to virtual care for both acute and chronic patients. Our new normal requires multiple avenues for patients to receive care. Also, robust access to virtual care eliminates the largest cause of care deferment during the pandemic.
- Encourage employees to use their healthcare and stop delaying routine care any longer
It is important that your organization encourages employees to utilize their health plans to receive all of the care they may have deferred over the past year. While this may result in a spike in claims in the short term, the long-term benefits of a healthy workforce far exceed the immediate costs. While increased utilization may seem counter-productive to controlling health plan costs, it is routine care that helps keep employees healthy and protects plans from experiencing large, unexpected claims.