The late comedy legend Joan Rivers used the catchphrase “Can we talk?” in discussing various topics. She explained her use of the phrase, saying "I always try to be very honest. My humor is truly stripping everything. Bam!” she explained. She went on to describe her approach: “Let’s stop the nonsense”.
One area of Corporate America that could use a similar approach is the area of employee benefits. Insurance companies and consultants would like to talk trends, utilization, probabilities, and the like. But what is missing from the conversation is the person. Not “employees", but the individual person. How the person thinks, what he fears, how and what she will choose and why.Would you like to transform your benefit offering into a competitive advantage?
To do this, you must structure the benefits so that she spends the benefit dollar like it was her dollar. If she makes a wise decision with her insurance card, she keeps the saved dollars. But how does she know what a wise decision is? You hire a medical concierge for her … think of the person in this role as a friend in the healthcare industry. This “friend” will help her find the most cost-effective place to receive that MRI, or the tier 1 drug alternative for her plan, or help her with a confusing medical charge that was supposed to be covered 100%.
Also, she does not know the best plan to choose. It is so confusing! You know the best choice for her based on the cost and worst-case scenarios. But she, like most people, will either fear the worst or fear the unknown and automatically select the inefficient plan for her and the company. Also, she does not have the savings in order to elect the best plan for her and her family in case of an unexpected medical bill.
These are real problems, but problems that have solutions.
By incorporating decision-support tools that do not use intimidating industry jargon, that walk her through some customized “what-if” scenarios, she can see the recommended plan based on payroll cost, worst-case “out-of-pocket” costs, company cash deposits into her medical account, and her likely claims. This doesn’t guarantee the best choice will be made. But knowledge is power.
A real problem for most Americans is cash-flow. Plans with lower-cost copays solve the cash-flow issue. However, these are very expensive plans and most inefficient. We have grown addicted to copays that were introduced with the Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) in the late 80s and early 90s. Couple this addiction with a lack of savings and a higher deductible is dangerous for someone living paycheck to paycheck. However, by incorporating an “FSA-like” account that is not a “Use-It-Or-Lose-It” account, but rather a “Use-It-Or-Save-It” account, the “What-If?” cash-flow issue is removed.
The consumer mindset. It’s individual. It’s personal. It’s powerful.
And it can be a competitive advantage for your company.
Are you thinking “my employees won’t understand”, “that’s too much work”, “it won’t work here” or “my broker showed me that”? Well, “Can We Talk?”
Written by: Mark Forhan, Consultant, Cornerstone Insurance Group