Quick Look: In the United States, a wide range of preventive medical services are available to nearly everyone for free – yet only 8% of Americans receive their complete set of recommended services. By partnering with a PEO, brokers can improve peoples’ health and lower health care costs by supplying their clients with the right employee benefits, expert guidance, and on-the-go technology.
The last two years – a time that will forever be remembered as the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic – shed light on a multitude of issues, including the importance of preventive health care. Disease can take an even harder toll on those suffering chronic, underlying, and undiagnosed conditions, as well as raise health care prices, but proactive medical treatment can help. Here’s how brokers can make a positive impact by providing the right employee benefits, guidance, and technology for the post-pandemic world.
What’s considered preventive care?
In the U.S., most health care plans must cover a group of preventive services at no cost to the patient. When delivered by an in-network provider, these services must be provided without charging a copayment or coinsurance, even if the patient hasn’t met their yearly deductible.
Preventive care includes far more than just a yearly physical. For example, some preventive services include:
- Blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol tests
- Cancer screenings, including mammograms and colonoscopies
- Counseling on topics like quitting smoking, losing weight, treating depression, and reducing alcohol use
- Well-baby and well-child visits, from birth to age 21
- Routine vaccinations against diseases such as measles, polio, or meningitis, as well as flu shots and other vaccines
- A range of pregnancy care services including counseling, screening, and vaccines
How preventive care helps
The most significant benefit of preventive care is that it’s just that: proactive.
By identifying underlying medical issues before they become serious, people reduce their risk of diseases, disabilities, and death. Avoiding these serious conditions also reduces a person’s comorbidities, something that is potentially lifesaving. For example, many of the comorbidities that the CDC classifies as risk factors for severe COVID-19 could be avoided or minimized by taking advantage of preventive care services.
On a financial front, preventive care can also reduce overall health care costs. Hospital care is very expensive – it makes up one-third of all U.S. health care costs – and preventive care can avoid or treat conditions before they require a visit to the emergency room.
Because hospitals are required to provide emergency care even if patients can’t afford to pay, hospitals often recover these costs through increased health insurance premiums. With health care costs expected to rise between 7% and 7.8% this year, it’s high time to combat these increases by leveraging no-cost preventive services.
Room for improvement
An array of no-cost services exist that can prevent serious illness and put money back in peoples’ pockets. So, where’s the problem?
Unfortunately, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, only 8% of U.S. adults received all their recommended high-priority preventive care services, and nearly 5% did not receive any services at all. What’s more, the CDC reports that seven out of 10 U.S. deaths are caused by chronic disease, and nearly half of the country has been diagnosed with a preventable chronic illness including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, AIDS, and other conditions.
The reasons for not taking full advantage of preventive services vary, but common barriers include not having a primary care provider, living far away from providers, lack of awareness about recommended services, and perceived cost.
How brokers can make a change
When it comes to preventive care, the stakes are high, as is the level of opportunity for brokers to help improve peoples’ health and lower health care costs. As the world recovers from the pandemic, many are more aware than ever of the importance of their wellbeing. The time is now for brokers to partner with a professional employer organization (PEO) to make a change. Here’s how:
Provide Fortune 500-level benefits
At the heart of a person’s wellness are the benefits they have at their disposal. By joining forces with a PEO, you can provide your clients with Fortune 500-level benefits like:
- Medical, dental, and vision insurance with telehealth capabilities
- An employee assistance program (EAP) that provides advice, support, and resources on health-related topics like quitting smoking or getting into shape
- Low-cost supplemental benefits like meditation app access that’s free to employees (did you know that meditation can help people reduce blood pressure, quit smoking, sleep better, and more?)
Review available preventive care options
If you’re already providing clients with health care plans, it may be a good time to revisit the range of preventive services available to them. Whether you lead the discussion or enlist the help of an employee benefits expert from your PEO partner, it’s easy to forget how many services are considered preventive, and a simple conversation can bring them all top of mind and spark change.
Train employees on available preventive services
Once SMB leadership has been reminded of the importance, range, and availability of preventive services, this message needs to get to their employees, as well. A PEO’s employee benefits experts can provide detailed coverage information to workers, as well as tips on how to navigate their insurance carrier’s website and/or app to find in-network providers.
Equip clients with the right technology
Technology is at the center of our lives. A surefire way to ignite adoption of preventive services is to put the power of medical information in the palms of peoples’ hands. The right PEO partner will offer a mobile-first HR platform that enables employees to easily review (and enroll in) health care benefits, whether they’re logged in to their work PC or using their smartphone on the go.
The importance of preventive health care is clear. Contact the experts at ExtensisHR to equip your clients with the employee benefits, support, and technology they need to succeed.