Dylan Murray

Tracking Employee Health Plan Usage

As an employer, you should track how your staff uses the employee health plan. This helps you maximize its effectiveness in regards to keeping your employees fit and ready to work.

Most human resources software packages include a benefits management tool that allows you to track plan costs and general use. By keeping a close eye on health plan use, you can adapt your internal health programs to ensure that your employees feel educated and empowered.

Conform to HIPAA Rules

You will have to conform to some basic laws while tracking employee health plan use. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) demands that you keep health-related information private.

For example, as a health insurance plan sponsor, you might have privileged access to your plan’s insurance claim data. But you can’t reveal anything you learn from those claims. You also might be able to see how many employees have completed an annual physical. But you can’t congratulate anyone specifically. HIPAA laws, however, would allow you to encourage everyone to seek an annual physical.

So, if you see that most of your staff haven’t used their annual physical benefit, you can send out an email promoting preventative health.

Use Dashboard Data

To start, track sick days with your HR dashboard. Although sick time is a health-related issue, it falls under your company’s time and attendance policy. So you can use this information to correlate to company productivity and profitability.

Next, keep a close eye on quarterly financials. Depending on the contracts you have with the health insurance carriers, you might be able to track monthly or quarterly health claim costs through the HR dashboard. If nothing else, you’ll get a year-end report about health care costs that you can use to manage your company’s future financials.

Keep It Simple

Because you likely offer several health plans through several carriers, keeping track of benefit use and health care costs could become cumbersome. You could be trying to filter thousands of data points from internal and external sources. And while you should assume that you will need to invest in some upfront time to determine all the information available, narrowing the tracking points down to five or so categories can make a big difference.

The examples above are core categories. Once you have a system for tracking some core information through the HR software, don’t waver on which reports to read. The endless possibilities could soak up hours of work time every week.

Encourage Action

Throughout the year, adapt your internal programs to help your employees maximize their health plans. For example, if a nearby drug store is offering flu shots, encourage everyone to take a few minutes after lunch to get a shot. (The few minutes it takes everyone to get a flu shot is nothing compared to the sick time your staff will use if they get sick.)

In the end, all of that dashboard data will show you that prevention is key in making health plans affordable. Not only will your staff take fewer sick days during the year, you are less likely to see your health plan premiums increase next year. All of the information likely exists inside the HR software you are currently using. If not, your broker or your health plan representative may have tracking tools you can utilize. Your upfront efforts to track health plan use, disseminate helpful information and encourage preventative care can save you a substantial amount of money and time year-over-year.

This content is provided solely for informational purposes. It is not intended as and does not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for consultation with legal, accounting, tax and/or other professional advisers.

Dylan Murray has an MBA from San Diego State University and a bachelor’s degree in communication from Boston University. He is a licensed insurance agent in California, but he works as a professional researcher and writer reporting on business trends in estate law, insurance and private security. Dylan has worked as a script analyst with the Sundance Institute and the Scriptwriters Network in Los Angeles. He lives in San Diego, California, and Marseille, France.