More employers consider integrated healthcare benefits

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A growing trend among employers is integrating workers’ healthcare benefits, in an effort to achieve better health outcomes.

Such integration also enables insurers to better use claims data and analytics to individualize care, improve patient experience and lower overall healthcare costs.

The study, released by Anthem, an Indianapolis-based healthcare insurer, was based on a survey of 222 companies with 100 or more employees. It found that 71 percent of respondents are either actively integrating or considering integrating health insurance coverage over the next five years, up 11 percentage points from 2016.

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Typically, such initiatives combine medical, pharmacy, dental, vision and disability benefits under health and wellness programs.

Previous research by Anthem has found that when such benefits are delivered “in silos” that have little or no interaction between them, it often can leave employees and healthcare providers with a disconnected view of total body health. By contrast, integrated healthcare connects benefits data to the employer’s health management program based on member claims and population insights. Anthem contends that this type of approach provides a more well-rounded picture of patients, enabling better outcomes and cost efficiencies.

“At Anthem, we are championing the power that claims data and analytics can have when leveraged through integrated healthcare and I’m encouraged that more employers are adopting this approach,” says Nick Brecker, president of Anthem’s Specialty Business. “By addressing ‘whole person health’ we can identify and communicate opportunities to positively impact employees’ health, provide them with a simplified experience and lower their healthcare costs.”

The cost and ease of administration remain important business imperatives to employers, but Anthem says the survey results underscore a noticeable shift to create and retain a more satisfied and healthier workforce, which is serving as a driver toward healthcare benefit integration. The “happiness factor” is a workforce advantage, with 88 percent of employers agreeing that integrated health care benefit programs make an organization a place where people want to work.

Some 90 percent of employers agree that offering integrated healthcare benefits makes a compensation package more attractive, and 86 percent of employers agree that integrated healthcare benefits reduced employee turnover and attrition.

“It’s clear that the impacts of employee health and benefits extend beyond the medical care costs,” Brecker says. “Employees and employers are looking for solutions that connect medical care with pharmacy, dental, vision, disability and other benefits programs, so that employees can get the support they need to improve their overall wellbeing, satisfaction and productivity.”

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