A New Approach to Customized Benefits

By the end of 2021, 95 percent of American workers considered changing jobs. Of these, 92 percent were so ready for advancement they were willing to change industries to find a position better aligned with their goals. Dubbed the “Great Resignation,” this trend thrust employers into a fierce competition to keep talent from migrating to other companies.

While flexible work schedules and remote work found themselves at the top of the most valued benefits list, peace of mind regarding healthcare is still top of mind for most. The pandemic health crisis reemphasized the importance of having access to affordable healthcare for families of all sizes.

Non-Salary Benefits are Key

Employees are taking a closer look at non-salary benefits as talent acquisition and retention grow increasingly competitive. Employers must consider the cost of providing quality benefits, meeting the needs of employees, and creating a great culture. Premium health benefits help reduce absenteeism and boost morale, but companies are finding it more and more difficult to balance costs with quality.

Benefits brokers have the ability to think wholistically about how different benefits options work together in a health plan. This expertise provides a unique opportunity to educate employers and HR professionals on products that can reduce overall costs. One of these products is direct primary care (DPC).

Direct primary care works in harmony with traditional benefit options like HDHPs, MECs, and more. By reducing claims exposure for employers, DPC can effectively reduce the costs of a health plan while allowing an employer to provide more comprehensive benefits. The benefits of a direct primary care membership far outweigh the costs. They include more customized healthcare, better overall health, unlimited access, and substantial cost savings.

Customized Healthcare

Because direct primary care is not health insurance, DPC providers are not limited to the time constraints that accompany major insurance providers. Doctors can spend more time learning about a patient’s family history and previous medical conditions. This more personalized approach can help providers detect conditions before they escalate to an unmanageable or extremely costly stage.

Unlimited Access to Care

Most DPC memberships offer in-office as well as virtual care. Technology has made it possible for members to access a healthcare provider 24/7/365 for little to no out-of-pocket costs. This benefit is extremely valuable to millennials and Gen Zers.

Substantial Cost Savings

With a DPC membership, employees can avoid high deductibles and copays to get the care they need. Costs with a DPC provider are transparent, so there are no surprise fees after a visit. Employers also enjoy significant savings because there are no insurance claims generated whenever an employer seeks care from a direct primary care provider.

Make Yourself More Valuable

Every broker wants to grow his book of business and help his current clients achieve their benefits goals. The best way to make an impact is to provide real solutions that help employers reduce costs while making their current talent and recruits feel seen and cared for. By educating employers on the benefits of adding direct primary care to a health plan, brokers can make themselves more valuable to present and future clientele.

Contact Healthcare2U for more information and helpful resources to educate clients on direct primary care.

Employee Well-Being is the New Normal

With the globally shared trauma of a multiyear pandemic, employees have felt disconnected, overwhelmed, and anxious. If you add on personal life responsibilities, the loss of loved ones, and other unique challenges, the cumulative stress can take a toll on anyone.

A recent survey by the National Institute for Health Care Management revealed 51 percent of people reported worse mental health at work since COVID-19 began, highlighting the need for employers to invest time and resources in improving employee wellbeing.

Whether working remotely or in an office setting, maintaining the mental and physical wellbeing of the workforce is a vital component of keeping any organization running smoothly. If you fail to oil the motor of any machine, it will seize up on you eventually. The cost of burnout is high, and the cost of high turnover can cripple a business. It’s better to invest in maintenance along the way instead of paying for calamity later.

As we head into a new year, here are a few strategies employers can implement to maintain the health and performance of employees.

Remove the Stigma of Addressing Mental Health Needs

Open and honest communication is the lifeblood of any relationship, including the relationship between employees and employers. By being vocal about mental health resources and encouraging staff to use them, leadership can create a culture where people feel comfortable asking for the help they need.

If employees think discussing challenges or asking for help will be seen as weakness or incompetence, they are less likely to speak up. This stigma can lead to decreased productivity, burnout, declining health, and turnover.

 Promote Self-Care

report from McKinsey & Company said 96 percent of global companies provided additional mental health resources to employees during the pandemic. Still, only one in six employees said they felt supported. In addition to providing apps and other resources, companies can frame wellbeing as an index of learnable actions and daily behavior.

The World Economic Forum suggests employers prioritize ensuring their staff is comfortable, healthy, and happy to build a more resilient workforce and rebuild the economy. They emphasize that wellbeing must be practiced daily like any other skill.

Here are a few strategies forward-thinking companies can employ to empower employees to build their self-care muscles.

  • Encourage employees to create time to recharge that includes adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
  • Emphasize the importance of mindfulness, disconnecting from technology, and reconnecting with their community.
  • Treat wellbeing as a business-critical skill that can be improved through training and development programs.
  • Add wellbeing check-ins to team meetings and make sure everyone knows how easily accessible vital resources are.

According to the McKinsey study, only 30 percent of employees reported feeling comfortable talking to their boss about their mental health. Managers must create a safe space for open and honest dialogue about these topics.

Wellbeing is a Skill

Wellness is a sliding scale that ranges from positive mental health to severe mental illness on the other. Not dealing with issues before they escalate can lead to decreased productivity, absenteeism, turnover, and declining health conditions that can be very expensive to treat. All these things are costing companies billions each year.

By providing resources, training, and support, employers can help employees develop the skill of well-being to make them more productive and resilient.

The U.S. Ranks Last in Healthcare Equity and Affordability Among High-Income Nations

A recent Commonwealth Fund study ranked 11 high-income countries in providing affordable, equitably accessible, high-quality healthcare. While Norway, the Netherlands, and Australia topped the list overall, the U.S. health system came in the last place.

According to the study, Americans in every income bracket struggle to afford the healthcare they need, compared to people in other high-income nations. Unfortunately, this study is yet another reminder that the current healthcare system does not work for most Americans. Lower-income families are incredibly disadvantaged in comparison to citizens of other countries.

The Commonwealth Fund made several recommendations for providing access to better care and expanding more equitable health outcomes. They include expanding coverage, strengthening primary care, and reducing administrative burden.

Expanding Coverage

The study found that the countries with the highest performing healthcare systems have universal coverage with consumer protections that allow citizens to get the necessary healthcare at little or no cost. While universal coverage in the U.S. seems unlikely, options like direct primary care (DPC) offer low-cost healthcare memberships available nationwide.

Strengthen Primary Care

The study noted that accessible primary care that is both affordable and timely keeps citizens healthier and lowers costs in the long run.

With DPC, unlimited access to a primary care provider encourages better health outcomes and less healthcare spending by allowing members to be proactive about their health. In general, when conditions are detected early, they can be treated at a lower cost and prevent health from deteriorating to an unmanageable state.

Reduce Administrative Burden

Healthcare providers who deal with third-party payers, like insurance companies, lament the constant paperwork and administrative complexities required by the system. One of the many reasons doctors with direct primary care practices enjoy the DPC model is they can devote the time they used to spend on administrative tasks to their patients. Direct primary care is different from insurance because there are no claims generated. That means lower costs for patients and employers and less paperwork for the physicians.

Unless some significant changes occur, the inequality of the U.S. healthcare system will continue to deepen. Experts hope the study encourages U.S. leaders to adopt measures that work in other high-income nations. With all its resources, America should create a quality healthcare system that is easily accessible and more affordable for all.

Direct primary care is a solution many are turning to because it can be accessed nationwide—in person or through virtual visits. Members get unlimited primary care visits for little or no copay, and memberships often include discounts on prescriptions and other perks.

For more information on how DPC can make healthcare more affordable and accessible, contact Healthcare2U.

Diabetes Awareness Can Save Lives [Affordable Access to Healthcare Can Help Detect, Treat and Manage Chronic Diseases Such as Diabetes]

According to the American Diabetes Association, as of 2018, almost 11 percent of Americans had diabetes. Over 1.5 million people are diagnosed with diabetes each year, and countless remain undiagnosed. With a chronic disease so prevalent, it’s essential to understand the causes and how awareness and quality healthcare can play a role in slowing its progression.

Type 1 Diabetes

Along with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes is one of the most common autoimmune disorders. Doctors are still studying the direct causes of these disorders, but they consider heredity, age, and hormone levels as increased risk factors. Immune disorders typically reveal themselves in childhood or early teen years. If a parent has an autoimmune disorder, there is a greater risk one of their children will also have the condition.

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. Some scientists believe type 1 diabetes is caused by viruses that may trigger the disease, in addition to genes and other environmental factors. In any case, the result is too much glucose, or sugar, in the blood.

Type 2 Diabetes

Like type 1, type 2 diabetes also results in blood sugar levels that are too high, but the cause is different. Lifestyle factors and genes cause this more common chronic disorder. People who are not physically active and are overweight or obese are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Excess weight can cause insulin resistance and is common in people with type 2 diabetes.

Insulin resistance is usually the first step toward type 2 diabetes. This issue occurs when the liver, muscle, and fat cells do not use insulin properly. The body requires more insulin to help cells receive glucose to make up for the inefficiency. The pancreas tries to keep up with this increased demand, but over time it falls behind, and blood glucose continues rising to dangerous levels.

Stress and hormonal disorders like Cushing’s syndrome can cause the body to produce too much cortisol. Constantly elevated cortisol can also cause insulin resistance and lead to type 2 diabetes.

Uncommon Symptoms

Fatigue, increased hunger or thirst, and frequent urination are among the common symptoms of diabetes. But there are some unusual symptoms people don’t always associate with the condition. They include:

  1. Lightheadedness
  2. Vision changes
  3. Recurrent infections
  4. Sexual dysfunction
  5. Pain in your limbs
  6. Breath smells like fruit or acetone
  7. Nausea
  8. Itching

Awareness is Key

Genes are a significant risk factor in developing type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Learned behaviors, such as diet and exercise, also play a substantial role in type 2. Unfortunately, diabetes tends to run in families and occurs more often in these racial/ethnic groups:

  • African Americans
  • Alaska Natives
  • American Indians
  • Asian Americans
  • Hispanics/Latinos
  • Native Hawaiians
  • Pacific Islanders

Perhaps some of the risk factors affecting these groups more than others are the lack of access to health education and quality healthcare in some areas. Traditionally, it was the primary care physician’s (PCP) role to screen for chronic diseases such as diabetes and educate patients when approaching the danger zone.

People with consistent access to quality healthcare tend to be more aware of their health and maintaining it, which lends itself to better health outcomes.

A PCP Can Help Manage Chronic Illnesses

It’s important to treat diabetes early because it can lead to blindness, kidney disease, irreversible nerve damage, or death if left untreated. If you’re feeling unwell, make an appointment with your primary care provider.

One of the benefits of a direct primary care membership is managing early-stage chronic diseases like diabetes at an affordable rate. Instead of expensive copays and deductibles, the monthly membership fee and low visit fee covers screenings and the treatment of chronic conditions within a manageable range.

For more information on managing chronic disease through a cost-effective direct primary care membership, contact Healthcare2U.

Health Plan Design is a Strategic Business Decision

According to a Korn Ferry Institute professional survey, the top reason candidates choose one job over another today is company culture. Twenty-three percent of respondents selected this reason as their top priority. Benefits were not far behind, with 19 percent choosing this as most important. However, the two are closely related. 

Companies are focused on being the best in their industry. They don’t have the time to devote to staying abreast of changes in the healthcare industry as new options become available. They look to their benefits brokers to help them add value to their employees while also protecting their profits. Here we’ll examine what employers are looking for and how brokers can help them stand out to potential candidates. 

Employers View Healthcare as Strategy
The nonprofit Business Group on Health (BGH) represents large employers and conducted the 2021 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey  in May and June 2020. The survey captured data from 122 large employers offering coverage to more than 9.2 million employees and dependents. Seventy-seven percent of the companies were building health plans for more than 10,000 employees. 

In addition to strategies for high-cost claims, employers are looking for fresh approaches to linking healthcare with workforce strategy. Forty-five percent of the employers said their healthcare strategy was an integral part of their workforce strategy, compared to 36 percent in 2019. 

Direct Primary Care (DPC) is a healthcare model that helps employers attract, motivate and retain employees in employer groups of all sizes. Here we’ll examine how DPC helps companies build full-bodied health plans that not only promote better employee health but make employees feel valued. 

Virtual/Telehealth Services 
Telehealth was rapidly gaining acceptance when a global pandemic catapulted it into the national spotlight. Many former in-person activities are being re-envisioned remotely, and that trend is here to stay. 

With 52 percent of large employers looking to offer more virtual care and telehealth options, it’s easy to see why direct primary care has become a go-to strategy. One of DPC’s key benefits is unlimited telehealth or virtual DPC visits for no out-of-pocket costs to members. The affordable monthly membership fee gives employees access to licensed medical providers online or by phone 24/7/365 for minor illnesses and injuries.  

This benefit means there are no deductibles to meet before insurance can cover a sick child or an injury from a minor accident. Families don’t have to forgo care because they don’t have the emergency funds saved to visit a primary care provider. 

Mitigating High-Cost Claims
Thirty-one percent of large employers surveyed want a strategy to contain the cost of high insurance claims. Direct primary care is not insurance but rather a healthcare membership that typically covers acute care, early chronic disease management, annual physicals, and urgent care. DPC shields employers’ health plans by diverting claims for care provided within the membership from insurance plans such as high deductible plans, Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC), health share plans, or others. 

Because DPC is a healthcare membership, it can be layered into any health plan at any time of the year to begin modifying employee behavior and impact costs by limiting claims exposure.  

Flexibility is the Future
The Korn Ferry survey asked professionals to predict what job seekers will value most from a prospective employer five years from now. Twenty-six percent of respondents chose flexible working situations. 

Even before the pandemic, flexible and remote work opportunities were waxing. Work from home productivity stats from 2018 shows that people who work remotely at least once a month are 24 percent more likely to be happy and productive. 

As brands expand their workforce nationally and remotely, they want to offer a healthcare solution for their employees that is consistent across all 50 states. Twelve percent of large employers are looking to adopt networks of high-performance healthcare providers in 2021. 

With a nationwide direct primary care provider like Healthcare2U, members can access primary care physicians in every state, face to face or virtually, for one low membership fee. This membership takes flexibility to a whole new level for today’s mobile workforce. 

When designing a health plan that works for today’s labor pool, the only limit is your imagination. If you’d like more information on how to bring a DPC solution to forward-thinking clients, contact Healthcare2U. 

Increased Demand for Virtual Healthcare Going Forward

As the largest living segment of the population, Millennials will comprise 75 percent of the workforce within the next six years. It’s no secret their appetite for convenience and technology has driven innovation in every sector, including healthcare. Even before 2020, telemedicine and virtual healthcare were considered the wave of the future.

The pandemic accelerated that push toward the future and the demand for telemedicine and virtual care will only continue to increase. Kristi Mitchell, practice director for Avalere’s Center for Healthcare Transformation, recently highlighted research indicating patients are more and more comfortable using telehealth and virtual care, viewing it as a way to strengthen relationships with their providers. She said, “Now that we’ve gotten a taste of it, there is tangible consumer demand pushing for it to stay.”

The boom in virtual care for mental health, the ability to manage chronic diseases, and equity and access for underserved populations are three reasons the trend for virtual care will continue to surge.

Mental Health Care Remains Important

The pandemic forced many services to go online, including psychiatry. Patients were forced to either get treatment virtually or by phone or delay care until in-person sessions were safe again. In an environment of accelerated unemployment, loss of life, and social unrest, waiting for mental health care wasn’t an option for some.

Many patients adopted virtual treatment readily, according to the digital health publication JMIR. A recent study of 244 Michigan psychiatric patients reported that 96 percent were fine with virtual or telephone sessions.

According to the survey, more than 90 percent of respondents chose to continue virtual treatment after nine months, saying virtual visits met or exceeded their expectations. It seems the patients appreciated online sessions’ convenience and the ability to schedule emergency sessions more easily.

Consistent Management of Chronic Disease

Chronic diseases like hypertension, arthritis, and diabetes drive the $1.1 trillion in healthcare costs for chronic disease management. Active monitoring and medication management are a large part of treating chronic conditions, and virtual care can deliver these services.

Data shows commercially insured patients turned to telemedicine for chronic care management at significantly higher rates than traditionally. The number of telemedicine claims related to diabetes, hypertension, and back pain increased 642 percent, 441 percent, and 258 percent, respectively. That’s a lot of claims impacting employers’ bottom lines.

If employers adopted a no-claims healthcare option that still provided unlimited virtual care and telehealth to manage chronic diseases, the savings could be exponential. Direct primary care (DPC) is one such option. This monthly healthcare membership not only allows patients to see a primary care physician in-office as often as needed, but it also provides unlimited access to telehealth and virtual visits.

Access for All

It’s interesting to note that telehealth was initially created to help hospitals reach patients who lived in remote or rural locations. Even in 2017, rural Americans were getting notably sicker as health systems struggled to deliver care in their areas. Only 10 percent of physicians serve rural populations, and the number of specialists is even fewer.

While rural patients lack providers, urban Americans have access problems because there is a shortage of in-person appointments. A survey of uninsured or individually insured respondents found 32 percent of urban and 21 percent of rural patients said they experienced delayed care when they thought they needed care sooner. Delayed healthcare leads to escalating conditions and escalating costs.

Both rural and urban Americans need a system that delivers quality healthcare that is not constrained to a particular geographic location, and they’re finding it in direct primary care.

Experts estimate 35 to 50 percent of in-person care will be delivered in a virtual primary care setting going forward. While the role of DPC and virtual care came to the forefront during the pandemic, many employers and employees are unaware of this benefit. If you’d like more information on how to bring the virtual care revolution to more clients, contact Healthcare2U.

Be Prepared for the New Normal Through the Power of Partnerships

If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to be prepared. Businesses of all shapes and sizes have been hit hard by this past year’s events and need flexible benefit brokers with a portfolio of products to adapt to their new normal. By combining insurance options, voluntary benefits, and non-insurance alternatives, brokers can step out of the major medical box to deliver a customized health plan to their diverse clients—distinguishing themselves from their competition. Partnerships with pioneering third-party administrators, insurance organizations, and health care memberships allow brokers to listen to their clients’ pain points, then deliver a tailored solution that meets their needs.

Partnering with a Third-Party Administrator

Most benefits providers have the same goal in mind: connecting people to exceptional healthcare. A third-party administrator (TPA) is a powerful ally when designing an effective and easy-to-use health plan.

A TPA can blend different carriers to build a variety of healthcare products. Each product in the plan can stand on its own, but like a biochemist, a third-party administrator understands the synergy of combining products to provide the best options for clients and make sales and marketing easier for brokers.

Employers enjoy the simplicity of having one payroll deduction per employee for all their healthcare products. The administration is what TPAs do, so they can quickly relieve an employer of the burdens of payment processing, compliance issues, and other nuances that can get complicated if you’re not well-versed.

Challenges of the Current Landscape

Every person, regardless of age, gender, or socioeconomic background, needs healthcare. Research shows people who utilize a primary care physician have 33 percent lower annual adjusted health care expenditures and lower adjusted mortality rates than those who don’t.1

The challenge is providing primary care and other health benefits that are affordable and easily accessible to everyone. Small businesses too often feel they can’t offer benefits.

Unfortunately, the cost of health insurance is continually increasing. Some employers are forced to pass healthcare costs onto employees in the form of high deductible health plans (HDHPs) to combat rising premiums. While an HDHP may offer premium services, some employees can’t afford to meet the deductible before health coverage begins, making the benefits unusable.

Whether offering a MEC or HDHP, employers also struggle to manage health plans’ costs due to insurance claims. These unpredictable claims are the wildcard of any benefits package, and many employers are uncomfortable with that level of exposure. They’re looking for brokers who can offer solutions to mitigate these costs.

Synergy Contains Costs

One way to contain an employer’s healthcare expenses is to combine MEC and HDHP insurance options with a no-claims option like direct primary care (DPC). DPC is a healthcare membership that differs from insurance because there are no premiums or deductibles to meet. There are no claims to process or impact the employer’s bottom line later.

Facility operators encourage physicians who work in their network to push patients toward specialist care and facility tests and evaluations, because that’s where they generate the most revenue. This practice is terrible news for employers when those large claims come in.

In contrast, direct primary care seeks to keep employees healthy so that they won’t need specialized care in the long run. DPC members pay a low monthly membership fee for unlimited access to a primary care provider. Most providers offer telehealth services and virtual visits as well—a game-changer over the last year. Utilizing primary care as recommended keeps health from deteriorating into more costly disease states or conditions that may require specialized care, such as surgery.

Should a catastrophic event or accident occur, a DPC member could still engage their HDHP or other insurance at that time. But for routine family care, direct primary care softens the blow for employees and employers.

Negotiating Better Rates with Other Carriers

Putting direct primary care into a health plan also directly affects the aggregate rate for stop-loss insurance. Stop-loss carriers know that adding DPC to a health plan offsets claims, so they offer reduced fees for companies who incorporate it. This practice is another cost reduction just for adding a direct primary care product with other insurance alternatives.

Also, health shares offer substantially discounted rates to employers who provide DPC as well. Those savings alone could cover the direct primary care cost in the health plan while also shielding the plan from shareable expenses.

Partnering to Provide Solutions for Associations

Health plans for associations ended with the ACA. This issue left a severe void in healthcare for professionals. There aren’t many low-cost solutions in all 50 states, but direct primary care is one.

Sometimes forgotten by brokers, there are still many associations that want to provide benefits to members in every state, but they don’t know how to do it. A savvy broker partnered with the right TPA can help fill the void for these organizations who may not understand the benefits of a product like DPC or other offerings that can work alongside it.

A Shift is Happening

There was a time when everyone wanted a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan, but brokers noticed a significant shift happening. Consumers say these products are expensive, and they also don’t always provide the best coverage. Feeling there must be a better way, many clients are looking for more cost-effective alternatives like DPC to blend into health plans. The 2020 Large Employers Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey confirmed that implementing advanced primary care strategies is an emerging trend among employers for 2021.

Employees want healthcare they can afford to use, and employers want to provide benefits that won’t wreak havoc on their profits. By leveraging the power of partnerships, a new breed of benefit brokers offers health plans that are both affordable and robust.

 

1 Franks P, Fiscella K. Primary care physicians and specialists as personal physicians. Health care expenditures and mortality experience. J Fam Pract. 1998 Aug;47(2):105-9. PMID: 9722797.

Looking into Healthcare’s Crystal Ball – The Present and Future of Direct Primary Care

The sun was already setting on the traditional in-office business world as we knew it, but 2020 became an accelerant that forced a reckoning on all fronts. The conventional ways of doing business, having a workforce in one location, and one-size-fits-all benefit plans quickly fell out of favor. Companies on the cutting edge of technology and innovation fared better than those who were slower to adopt new methodologies.

This past year drastically upended not only traditional business but also the way we consume healthcare. From virtual primary care to virtual urgent care visits, we learned that telemedicine isn’t only a helpful benefit in some healthcare plans, but it’s vital in this digital world. Here we’ll examine how outdated traditions are being replaced by a hybrid healthcare solution that transcends socioeconomic and geographic barriers for employers of every size.

The Past

In 2018, 40 percent of American households earned less than $50,000 per year per four-person household. Low wages with no benefits have left many Americans out in the cold when it comes to healthcare. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69 percent of low-wage workers, those in the 10th lowest percentile of median wage earners in the U.S. civilian workforce, do not receive paid sick leave benefits.

With earnings so low they can’t afford to take unpaid time off when sick, many keep working and expose others to illness in the process. COVID-19 taught us this practice could have serious, if not deadly, consequences. Direct primary care (DPC) is a healthcare model that evolved to be a cost-effective solution that makes healthcare more accessible to everyone via a multi-platform delivery of care through in-person, phone, or video visits. In situations like these, access to a primary care physician via telehealth became extremely meaningful.

Traditional DPC

To eliminate the stress of dealing with third-party payers, many doctors opt to see patients on a direct primary care model only. This practice is known as a traditional DPC practice. Instead of billing insurance, members pay a monthly fee for unlimited primary care. This model gives doctors the ability to offer the same level of high-quality care to all their patients without generating claims that will later impact an employer’s health plan.

Because traditional DPC eliminated insurance billing codes, physicians operating solely under the DPC model benefit from both the lower overhead associated with small practices and the absence of hassles created by insurance companies. With the model, employers and employees get an affordable healthcare alternative to insurance, but there are limitations. Traditional DPC practices are regional, meaning they can only see a limited number of patients because they exist in one location. Employers with multiple or nationwide locations and mobile or remote workforces need accessibility and convenience for their entire crew.

The Tipping Point

DPC Present and Future

The pandemic taught businesses to lean into flexibility. A recent survey found 74 percent of CFOs plan to keep workers remote after the pandemic. From a financial standpoint, having a remote workforce makes sense. The cost savings have allowed many companies to avoid further severe cuts and downsizing.

Even after the pandemic is over, many don’t expect to return to business as usual. Facebook announced its employees could work from home for the next 5 to 10 years. Twitter and other large companies have also announced a permanent switch to virtual-first work environments. We’ll likely see more central offices replaced with far-flung employees and contractors outside of metropolitan areas. The trend was already happening pre-pandemic, and now it’s accelerated.

In 2019, 65 percent of professionals said they would be more productive working remotely than in a traditional office, with 49 percent saying they go to their home office when they need to focus and get work done. With cost savings, increased productivity, and rising employee morale, it’s clear a remote workforce isn’t forthcoming—it has already ignited.

Situations like this will raise new healthcare issues for a team working from a variety of locations. And, for those employers who were forced to lay off workers, shrinking headcounts could also have an unforeseen impact on insurance premiums.

What that means for employers is the traditional options for health plans are incongruent with how employees live today. Traditional Direct primary care practices adapted to a hybrid approach to fill this ever-widening void for employers who have remote employees in various states and mobile workers who live on the go.

Nationwide, Hybrid DPC

A hybrid Direct Primary Care (DPC) model is especially beneficial when it’s part of a nationwide network of providers accessible in any state. This approach has been a game-changer for companies expanding their remote workforce across state lines. It’s also extremely beneficial for restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality industry businesses with locations in multiple states.

The Benefits of Hybrid DPC

For transportation, sales, and other mobile professions, a nationwide DPC membership is extremely valuable for several reasons. Each provider has its list of particular services, but some DPC membership benefits include:

  • Patient advocates to support members in navigating their healthcare options
  • 24/7/365 access to a primary care provider via telehealth or in-office visits
  • Unlimited in-office visits for a minimal-to-no fee
  • Annual physical provided to establish a baseline for member health
  • Early-stage chronic disease management

It’s helpful to have health insurance for catastrophic life events, but being able to see the doctor when you’re ill without paying expensive deductibles or copays is a reason people love DPC.

Traditional DPC practices and hybrid DPC providers are all working together to ensure people of all socioeconomic backgrounds can get the healthcare they need to live happier and healthier lives. If you’d like more information about access to affordable and convenient healthcare, contact Healthcare2U, the nation’s fastest-growing, hybrid DPC provider.

Affordable Healthcare Alternatives Can Minimize the Fallout from COVID

While lockdowns have helped save lives by mitigating the spread of COVID-19, their implications for the economy and the long-term health of the population are far-reaching. As companies struggled to adjust their business models to survive during the pandemic, many were forced to shut their doors or downsize to stay afloat. Economists predict the record unemployment seen over the past year will affect the health of Americans and increase the mortality rate.

Past studies show that decreasing the use of preventive care, an increased suicide rate, and an increase in cardiovascular disease deaths can cause death rates to surge when unemployment rises. Economists Francesco Bianchi, Giada Bianchi, and Dongho Song recently analyzed how changes in U.S. unemployment rates correlated with changes in U.S. mortality figures in recent decades.

Sobering Predictions

The economists predict pandemic-related unemployment could cause about 460,000 excess U.S. deaths over the next ten years. That doesn’t include the number of people killed by the COVID-19 virus itself. It’s a very sobering thought when you let it sink in. Financial experts expect nearly half a million people to die from health problems brought on by financial stress and a lack of preventive care.

According to economists, there are a few things policymakers and companies can do to get ahead of this dire prediction. They recommend mask-wearing and social distancing in the workplace and advocate ensuring people have access to health care. Here we’ll examine how affordable healthcare alternatives, such as direct primary care (DPC), can soften the financial blow for employers and current or laid-off employees who want to maintain their access to quality healthcare.

The Problem with COBRA

Millions of workers have been laid off or furloughed over the past year, and while many could opt into health coverage under COBRA, that can be very expensive for employees and employers. If an employee has chronic conditions, like diabetes or heart disease, getting regular care can also lead to excessively high claims costs for employers in this scenario.

A DPC membership with a low monthly membership fee can be an affordable healthcare alternative in cases like these. Suppose employees (current, laid off, or furloughed) are looking for day-to-day primary care and preventive care. In that case, a nationwide direct primary care membership can be a cost-effective healthcare option.

No-Claims Healthcare Alternative

The purpose of the relationship between a patient and a primary care physician (PCP) is to create a continuous health-management conversation rooted in trust and respect. Preventive screenings, knowledge of family health history, and managing chronic conditions are a few of the benefits of this relationship.

Even before the financial stressors and unemployment caused by the pandemic, 60 percent of Americans were living with one or more chronic diseases. Some of these conditions were preventable but went undetected due to a lack of primary care. Sometimes disease states escalate due to lack of consistent care, which is often tied to financial strain. This doesn’t have to be the case when you have a no-claims solution like direct primary care.

Because DPC isn’t health insurance, there are no claims to impact the employer’s bottom line and no deductibles for the employee to meet before getting necessary care. For example, Healthcare2U offers direct primary care memberships that provide unlimited in-office primary care visits for a low fee and telehealth or virtual visits for no out-of-pocket costs. These benefits allow workers to not only get preventive care, but the membership also includes unlimited treatment and management of 13 chronic disease states for the same $10 visit fee. Healthcare2U accepts pre-existing conditions within manageable ranges, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Blood Pressure
  • CHF
  • COPD
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • GERD
  • Gout
  • Hypertension
  • Thyroid

Hope for the Future

Economists predict the number of excess deaths caused by pandemic-related unemployment could amount to about 1 in 400 people in the U.S. population in 2035 or about 1 in 270 people in 2040. That’s .25 to .37 percent of the population, and it’s preventable with quality healthcare.

Benefits brokers have a unique opportunity to educate employers who may or may not be forced to lay off employees about the cost savings associated with direct primary care. By utilizing an affordable monthly healthcare membership, people can continue getting preventive care and treating chronic conditions that could lead to mortality.

If you’d like more information about DPC for current or laid-off workers, contact Healthcare2U.

Affordable Healthcare and Financial Literacy for Millennials [How Direct Primary Care Delivers the On-Demand Healthcare Experience that Millennials Want]

Faced with a rapidly changing way of living and working, millennials (people born between 1981 and 1994/6) often struggle to find their financial footing. The pandemic has affected many Americans, but a recent poll says COVID-19 has had a significant negative impact on millennials’ finances and savings.

According to a Harris Poll, commissioned by DailyPay, Funding Our Future, and the Center for Financial Security, 52 percent of millennials say their savings have declined since the beginning of the pandemic. Only 35 percent feel they are on track to achieve their retirement goals.

A disturbing 44 percent of millennials had either no savings (17 percent) or lacked enough savings to cover a $400 emergency expense (27 percent). A mounting feeling of financial instability with no plan to reach short-term financial goals or long-term retirement goals is a significant stress source for millennial workers.

Unexpected medical bills can add unnecessary stress, and not knowing how to use the healthcare system properly can lead to racking up more medical expenses than necessary. Thus, affordable healthcare should be part of the financial literacy conversation. With a little help from benefits brokers and employers, these young staffers can learn about affordable healthcare options, like direct primary care (DPC), that can ease their financial burdens and keep them on track for the future.

Employee Expectations are Evolving

It’s abundantly clear that many of the changes we’ve adopted during the pandemic will become permanent in the years to come. For example, telehealth has become commonplace—and the preferred method of care for many. Much like going online for meetings, millennials were quick to take a digital approach to every area of their lives, including healthcare.

Whether they’ve been impacted directly by COVID-19 or not, the current crisis has led many employees to rethink which benefits they need most. Millennials who may have just started families or may want to shortly seek benefits that will provide a safety net for their family without further straining their financial health.

They may be more open to considering benefits they haven’t weighed in the past, such as direct primary care, to ensure they are adequately covered.

DPC is a perfect fit for Millennials

on-demand healthcareMillennials take responsibility for their care and are less likely to depend on a health system with which they are not satisfied. The Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 45 percent of 18 to 29 year-olds and 28 percent of 30 to 49 year-olds have no primary care provider (PCP). They also learned that more than 33 percent of millennials prefer on-demand healthcare from retail walk-in clinics over visiting their doctor’s office.

These statistics point to a larger generational shift toward on-demand healthcare, where younger patients prioritize the delivery speed and availability of appointments. With a little education, this group can learn the benefits of developing a long-term relationship with a PCP in a direct primary care environment. They still get speed and availability, but they can also keep their health history in one central location.

DPC is an affordable monthly healthcare membership that gives employees unlimited access to a primary care provider through in-office visits, telehealth, or virtual visits. Instead of using an urgent care center or emergency room as the go-to primary care setting, DPC members save money in the long run by avoiding expensive copays, insurance premiums, and escalating health conditions that will cost more if not treated promptly.

Knowledge is Power

The post-pandemic economic recovery could include a massive expansion of job options made possible by the work from anywhere revolution. Some say it could ignite a battle for talent unlike any other. With turnover costing employers 20 percent of an employee’s annual salary, attracting and retaining employees becomes even more essential to business success. Part of retaining talent is helping employees understand the employment benefits available to protect them and their families regarding affordable healthcare.

According to a recent survey, many employees turn to their employer for financial advice and counseling. Millennials mostly want help creating a long-term financial strategy, and most can’t afford pricey financial advisors. However, employers can remedy this by partnering with knowledgeable benefits brokers to provide educational workshops for employees.

Nearly two-thirds of employees believe the COVID-19 pandemic will impact their path to retirement, and many are looking for ways to save more. This world-changing event has made millennials and other workers more aware of the coverage needed to protect their own health and wellbeing, as well as their family’s. Direct primary care can be an integral part of minimizing the cost of effective healthcare for young families.

For more information on bringing DPC to a workforce that includes multiple generations, contact Healthcare2U.