When it comes to staying healthy, it takes more than just seeing the doctor. Dental, vision and disability management are also crucial for keeping someone in good overall health, which is why more employers are offering these plans on top of health insurance to provide a more complete benefits package.
The problem here, though, is that employers usually buy every part of their benefits package from different insurance companies. This leads to poorer health care outcomes for employees and higher costs for employers. Luckily, an integrated benefits plan can get around these issues by improving coordination between all medical benefits.
The Trouble With Traditional Medical Benefits
Patient information is typically not shared between medical providers unless the patient specifically asks for it to be sent over. That’s why a new health care provider often starts by asking the patient for an update on their medical situation. However, important information can be overlooked because patients don’t necessarily know what to report. This system also wastes time and increases costs because providers end up repeating the same questions and tests.
As an example, say a patient is taking a prescription that may cause blurry vision. When they see their eye doctor for a checkup, the doctor notices that the patient is having trouble seeing. Under the current medical system, the eye doctor could misdiagnose the issue as a vision problem rather than a side effect from the prescription because the patient may not know to share that information.
How Integrated Benefits Represent an Improvement
Under the integrated system, one insurance company is in charge of managing all medical benefits. This includes health insurance and other aspects of employee benefits such as vision, dental, disability and life insurance. The insurance company does much more than just selling all the parts of the plan; it runs all the benefits through the same network, which means every health care professional on the network shares information and works together.
If an employee goes to see their doctor for a checkup, the doctor will record the results in the integrated system. That information will then be available whenever the patient goes to see their eye doctor, their dentist, a disability specialist — everyone involved in keeping the patient healthy.
Take the example of the eye doctor above. Under this system, the doctor would see the patient’s medical history and know that the prescription is causing the vision problem, preventing a misdiagnosis.
Benefits for the Workforce
The integrated benefits system offers better care for employees because it’s more cohesive, streamlined and proactive. Every time an employee sees a provider, even their dentist, that provider reviews their entire medical situation for potential issues. Having professionals in different specialty areas checking over all the relevant information gives each employee the best chance of staying healthy.
At the same time, the coordinated system delivers benefits to employees more quickly. For example, if an employee becomes disabled, their disability payments will go out faster because the employee won’t have to wait for a separate insurance company to review their medical history. The needed information will already be on the integrated system.
Benefits are also easier for employees to manage because everything is run through the same company. They only have to review one website to see what benefits they have and can use the same membership card for all their services. Finally, the cost savings from integrated benefits leads to lower employee premiums and co-payments.
Employers Gain in Multiple Ways
The integrated benefits system helps foster a healthier workforce. Medical providers work together to catch potential problems early on, doing everything they can to prevent issues from turning into something more serious and costly. This leads to higher productivity, fewer sick days, lower medical expenses and fewer disability insurance claims.
The large scale of this program allows the insurance company to negotiate rates that are lower than what an employer would pay by signing up for each benefit separately. Managing plans through one insurance company is also much more convenient because it means employers only have to deal with one firm for negotiations and managing claims.
Too many unnecessary health problems develop partly because of a lack of communication between different health care providers. Luckily, integrated benefits represent a positive step toward fixing this health care issue while making benefits more affordable across the board.
David Rodeck is a professional freelance writer based out of Delaware. Before writing full-time, he worked as a health- and life-insurance agent. He specializes in making insurance, investing and financial planning understandable.