Are High-Deductible Plans Placing Employee Health at Risk?
Chronic disease management is not only expensive and complex but it’s key in improving patient outcomes and minimizing overall healthcare expenditures. Currently, the price tag of chronic illnesses accounts for 72 percent of the $2.2 trillion spent on healthcare in the U.S. each year. Diabetes is one such chronic condition that is so common, 30 million Americans are affected by the disease which can lead to blindness, kidney disease, amputations and heart disease. With the prevalence of chronic diseases, what happens to ill employees when their employer raises health insurance deductibles?
In the article, Getting the Diabetes Care You Need on a High-Deductible Plan, a study follows 34,000 diabetic employees through their transition from a $500 maximum low-deductible health plan to a high-deductible insurance plan that boasted out-of-pocket costs of $1,000 or more. Compared to individuals who remained on low-deductible plans, employees who switched to high-deductibles waited longer to seek various treatments because of expenses. For example, patients waited an average of 1.5 months longer to seek care for chest pain – the first major symptom of atherosclerosis, a high-risk condition for diabetic patients. Employees also delayed treatment by two months for the first major diagnostic test, and three months (or longer) for the test result’s recommended medical procedure.
The study didn’t include research of the health outcomes of these individuals or how the delay in care affected their pre-existing diabetes. However, it is important for employers and healthcare professionals to note the value in time-sensitive decisions for care. If left untreated, diabetes can create numerous health complications to include heart attack, stroke or amputation of extremities. With atherosclerosis, in particular, a delay in treatment can result in heart attack, stroke or another medical emergency.
End Delayed Care with an Affordable Solution
Many factors can contribute to delayed care – however, it’s a fact that the cost of healthcare is a huge concern for patients. Employees with less-than-adequate health coverage/insurance may decide to “wait-out” their symptoms, increasing their risk for serious health complications in the future. If your clients utilize a high-deductible option, their insurance plan is at-risk for serious health expenditures down the line.
To offset an employee’s health expenses from a high-deductible health plan, employers may to offer gap plans that include affordable and convenient access to care. Gap insurance is a supplemental health plan that cushions expenses for employers and employees who utilize high-deductible health care plans. By offering a gap plan, employers improve the entry point to healthcare and encourage their employees to seek treatment at the onset of an illness, reducing urgent care and emergency room visits.
One gap solution is to provide employees a membership to Healthcare2U’s No-Claims Healthcare™. Through unlimited access to our patient-navigation platform, Healthcare2U shifts care away from traditional insurance and towards membership services, avoiding claims. By directing members towards affordable and convenient care, Healthcare2U can educate employees about their health and their next steps towards wellness. Healthcare2U works with employers of all sizes and there is no exclusion of pre-existing conditions. Benefits include – but are not limited to – same or next-day acute care with a board-certified physician for $10 a visit, 24/7/365 bilingual telehealth for no additional cost and chronic disease management for 13 of the most prevalent chronic disease states for the same $10 visit fee. Because of Healthcare2U’s cost-containment nature, employers have seen an ROI of 15 percent within their first year of implementation.
With DPC, members create a trusting relationship with their primary care physician, unaffected by budgeting concerns. This educates them to lead a healthier lifestyle, minimizing future insurance premiums for their employers. Are you interested in learning what Healthcare2U can do for your employer groups? If so, let’s talk.