Five Features Health Insurance Carriers Look for in Their Vendors
Published June 25, 2021 by Archetype Solutions Group
10 min read
Our most recent roundtable brought together a group of leading health insurance companies along with our 2021 Well-Being Trailblazers to discuss the key characteristics of successful wellness programs and the future of workplace well-being. Archetype Solutions Group and the Wellness Council of America (WELCOA) jointly awarded LearnLux, Wellview, Peerfit, and Unmind as this year’s Well-Being Trailblazers.
In this roundtable, insurance company leaders and Trailblazers discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced employee wellness needs and what factors encourage higher member engagement in health services. Listed below are the five most important features that health insurance carriers search for in vendors to increase member participation rates.
Want to get to know our 2021 Well-Being Trailblazers? Don’t miss our awards ceremony on July 14th at 2 pm EST, where you can vote for your favorite to win the 2021 Well-Being Trailblazer People’s Choice Award! Save your spot now.
1- A FOCUS ON PROACTIVE CARE AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH
Benefits managers are increasingly aware that providing services focused on proactive care is more cost-effective in the long run than treating illnesses once they arise. Programs that target risk factors such as obesity, stress, and high cholesterol can help employees avoid more expensive and intrusive care down the line.
COVID-19 has elevated the importance of mental and behavioral health, and there is an increase in demand for services that connect members with mental health specialists and resources. In fact, many of our insurance leaders mentioned that behavioral health is now being seen by employers as interdependent with physical health, which was not the case before the pandemic.
They talked about how mental health services are crucial components of their plans as individuals often have trouble accessing these resources on their own.
These programs are no longer seen as less important than those treating physical conditions as employers realize their effect on reducing employee absenteeism and boosting overall well-being. The leaders agreed that the cost of adding these benefits to their plans is worth it.
2-EASE OF USE TO ENCOURAGE EMPLOYEES TO GET THE MOST FROM THEIR BENEFITS
The simplicity of program design is critical to encouraging employees to engage with and consistently use the resources provided. Many members do not take full advantage of the services available to them because they are not aware of how they work and what they provide.
In order to raise participation rates, it is necessary for healthcare solutions to be clear on what they supply and how they help employees.
On a similar note, apps or websites that are overly complicated and unintuitive for end-users do not have the positive impact that they could. Services that offer distinct programs for different audiences, are simple for employees to understand, or are available on phones are often used more regularly throughout organizations. It’s also hard for employees to keep track of many different apps and programs, so connectivity and integration between solutions are important.
The pandemic has led to the conversion of many healthcare services and resources to online platforms, and that is often positive for employees who want well-being support at a lower time and effort commitment. Insurance leaders agreed that the pandemic has also lowered apprehension toward online care. However, end-users require support infrastructure for digital resources to get the most from the service.
It’s also important to identify the employee segments that are at risk of being left behind in the shift to online platforms and provide alternative solutions that are just as impactful and easy to use.
3-CUSTOMIZATION OPTIONS TO TAILOR PROGRAMS TO COMPANIES AND THEIR EMPLOYEES
Vendors who tailor their products to specific audiences (e.g. customization for single employees, older employees, employees with kids, etc.) tend to be more successful and useful to employers. For example, one leader mentioned a vendor that provides short “skim-reads” on each program to make it clear who the programs are targeted toward. Since well-being is such a personal experience, a one-size-fits-all approach is ineffective. When it comes to getting the maximum value for the price paid, employers also want resources that align well with their employees’ needs.
A common theme throughout the roundtable was that it is important for vendors to understand the audience that they are targeting – factors like employees’ cultural backgrounds, ages, and economic statuses are important. This allows the vendor to ensure that the service is tailored to the employer’s population.
Another factor that vendors need to take into account is worksite presence, which COVID-19 has brought to the forefront. As more companies are allowing long-term remote options, it is even more important for benefits to be customizable to cater to in-person, remote, and hybrid working situations.
4-REPORTING FUNCTIONALITY TO UNDERSTAND WHICH EMPLOYEES USE SERVICES AND HOW
Employee engagement is essential to getting the best value from well-being programs. Data on which services are used by which employees is important information for those determining health benefits, especially when the employer can access aggregate data themselves. The transition to remote work made it more difficult for employers to check in with their employees, underscoring the need for vendors to have reporting functionality that is visible to the employer.
For example, a vendor might provide the health benefits director of an organization access to information on how many employees are engaging with the solution and which aspects of the program are used the most. This is useful for the director because it allows them to evaluate the cost-return of the program.
While reporting used to be focused simply on how many employees interacted with health services on the phone or through appointments, new reporting services have allowed for deeper insights.
Insurance companies and employers now use reports to understand how employees behave, in addition to how they connect to services.
This is crucial data for insurance companies to evaluate what services are cost-effective for which members.
5-MEMBER ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY TO INCREASE EMPLOYEE IMPACT
There has been a greater focus on employee engagement with health services over prolonged periods. This is crucial to reducing long-term costs and absenteeism from the workplace. However, especially when most of the programs are virtual, many individuals do not regularly use the services offered.
Insurance carrier leaders agreed that monetary incentives are often the most effective way of encouraging participation in services but are not always possible. Insurance companies are looking for vendors to create unique methods of increasing member participation. Looking at employees as individuals and offering them consultations to find the programs and resources that are most applicable has worked to increase usage and is becoming more necessary for services. When company executives use the resources, it generally leads to increased company engagement as a whole.
Services that are priced per engaged employee are also gaining popularity. This means that employers and insurance companies do not have to pay for services that many of their members are not using and can focus their spending on popular resources.
It also incentivizes vendors to focus on engagement and put effort towards increasing enrollment, which ultimately benefits employees.
As some employees return to the office, others stay home, and others opt to do both, it is increasingly important that health benefits solutions are tailored to individual users. Individuals’ needs vary based on a variety of factors, and services that offer a one-size-fits-all approach to wellness are less successful.
Vendors that create services and programs which are intuitive and enjoyable for members to use will be increasingly valued as insurance companies look for ways to encourage members to be more proactive and make the most out of their well-being resources. As new ideas like per-engaged-employee pricing emerge and advanced technology is incorporated into programs, it will be interesting to see the shift to more proactive and individualized workplace well-being.