How integration and insight may support employee well-being and help reduce costs

As an employer, when you can understand the overall well-being of your employees and how your health initiatives are working, you may be able to make better decisions about coverage. The first step toward gaining this understanding may come through integrating the benefits being offered.

When done right, the results of integration may include increased employee participation and better value in health care.

Integrated health benefits

Integrated or bundled benefits create a whole-person approach to employee health by bringing together medical and other benefits — pharmacy, vision, hearing, behavioral health care and more — under one umbrella. This streamlined approach may give a more complete picture of each employee’s health and may help with:

  • Timely intervention to address behavioral health needs
  • Faster diagnosis and management of chronic conditions  
  • Identification and use of the most effective treatments

For example, employees are four times more likely to get a vision exam than a physical. That makes eye care a place where employees may be alerted to health risks that could go beyond vision. When an employer integrates medical and vision benefits, it may help connect an employee to their primary care provider when a broader health concern arises during an eye exam.

Engaging employees in their health

The more employees take advantage of services in their health plan — sometimes referred to as engagement with the plan — the better their health. Therefore, the more productive they may be in their work and the less their employer may need to spend on health care. 

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Employee use of benefits is often tied to how easy and connected the care journey is from beginning to end, and integrated benefits may help the process. 

For instance, when an employee has integrated medical and behavioral benefits, the nurse who enrolls the member in a diabetes management program may also do a screening for mental health conditions. If the test is positive for depression, the nurse may help with a connection to a behavioral therapist. Moving forward, if medications are required to manage the diabetes or emotional health needs, the employee would have one point of contact, which continues to help simplify the care.

Insight into health data

Integrated benefits may also create a rich collection of data points that, when analyzed properly, may become a roadmap for creating more value in a company’s health plan and for increasing employee engagement.

For instance, UnitedHealthcare’s Health Plan Manager™ offers a comprehensive look at all health data, including medical, prescription and behavioral claims. Insights from the Health Plan Manager help employers make more effective choices about a plan’s design, and, when necessary, assist in correcting gaps in care.

Where the need is the highest, UnitedHealthcare analyzes the performance of employee health choices using a tool called the Health Activation Index (HAI). The tool reviews 53 health decisions (financial, clinical, use of resources) and summarizes them into a unique score, where each +1% change equals a 0.56% savings.

Employers with integrated benefits generally have had higher scores, which may mean better choices are being made within health care journeys. Those with medical, dental and vision have an average HAI score of 61.6% compared to 59.1% for employers with only medical benefits.1

In the end, raising the number may mean healthier workers and greater savings.

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