Healthcare needs the quintessential goal - MedCity News

Improving health equity should not be the responsibility of government and the health system alone. Employers should also work to reduce discrepancies, experts say in a recent release report. In the US, about 55% of the population receives insurance from their employers.

“Why should my business play a role? The short answer is that income, economic stability, workplace benefits such as paid time off and medical benefits, and social conditions in the communities where companies operate are major drivers of health disparities, and employers can play a leading role in addressing many of the them,” the authors point out in the Harvard Business Review article, which was published in the January-February edition of the magazine.

The report was authored by Dr. Shantanu Nundi, a primary care physician and chief medical officer at praise which is a navigation company; Dr. Lisa Cooper, professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University; and Ellen Kelsey, President and CEO of Healthcare Business Group.

There are economic consequences to the lack of progress in health equity: Health care disparities cost $320 billion a year, a Deloitte study found.

Here are four ways employers can increase health equity for their employees:

  1. Improve health plan offerings

Some plans may create more disparities in health, the authors say. One example of this is copays for emergency room visits. Many people in marginalized communities have difficulty accessing primary care and therefore rely on the emergency department for routine care.

“So cost-sharing efforts may inadvertently worsen health outcomes for employees at greatest risk of serious complications,” the authors said.

Improving plan design can have a major impact on health outcomes. The authors cite a study in the New England Journal of Medicine and Health Affairs that found minority patients whose employers covered all preventive drugs after experiencing a heart attack had 35 percent fewer major complications than those with copayments . They also had 70% lower overall health care costs.

  1. Targeting social determinants of health

Employers should invest in benefits that are not “traditionally considered part of medical coverage” but still have an indirect effect on health. One example is Kaiser Permanente Thrive Locally program that was created in 2019. It finds members with an unmet social need — such as food, housing or transportation — and connects them to a community resource.

Other ways employers can address the social determinants of health include providing help with student debt, giving employees access to paychecks before payday, offering childcare assistance, and assisting with legal housing services , safety or immigration.

  1. Using Virtual Care and Community Partnerships for Primary Care and Mental Health

With an estimated 87 million Americans living in communities without adequate access to primary care and mental health providers, it is vital for employers to provide virtual care for these services, the authors urged. Many large employers provide free or subsidized virtual health services, but often lack primary and mental health care, the report found.

“It is important that employers evaluate the virtual services offered by their health plan networks and invest in solutions that offer care that is culturally informed, contextually appropriate and socially aligned (delivered by clinicians who share a social identity with the employee).” , authors wrote.

Another way employers can expand access is by partnering with community-based providers such as CVS Health or Walgreens.

  1. Improved navigation

Employees of color are 1.4 to 1.5 times more likely to find benefits resources and tools insufficient than white employees, according to 2021 McKinsey Study cited by the authors. There are several strategies employers can use to improve care navigation, such as using more inclusive language and creating a diverse HR team. They can also train managers to identify employees with unmet needs and connect them with programs.

Additionally, there are navigation services that can help employees find providers who are culturally educated. One example is Health includedwhich helps LGBTQ+ staff find LGBTQ+-friendly clinicians.

When it comes to implementing these strategies, certain steps are required. Employers should create a “business case” that quantifies the effect of health disparities on their bottom line, the authors said. They should also use data to understand what needs are unmet and start with a specific community or health problem rather than taking a more general approach. Finally, employers should obtain input from employees in marginalized communities.

The report did not mention how much these initiatives cost, but emphasized that they will ultimately benefit the companies’ finances.

Photo: undefined undefined, Getty Images

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *