COVID-19 has changed much of the world that we live in, including how people think about and value their own health and wellness.
As COVID-19 began to spike in the U.S., consumers shifted habits related to their overall health and Health Savings Account (HSA) usage. In fact, in a recent Further survey, we learned that as concerns over the pandemic grew, 69% of consumers reported that their health is more important to them today, compared to pre-coronavirus times.
When asked to prioritize the most important activities for maintaining their overall health, employees chose eating healthy, exercise and sleep as the top three. Importantly, these top three activities are things that employees can easily control, but can often be tough to maintain. This data shows that employees want to be active participants in maintaining their health and wellness.
Unfortunately, we also learned that “optimizing health care plan use” scored lowest in the list of important activities to employees. This shows that employees are vastly undervaluing the power they have in controlling their HSAs and therefore controlling their own health. Employees need to understand that they can have greater control over their health care by taking advantage of funds available to them in their HSA. If for years HSAs have been positioned like retirement accounts that should be accessed only at some far-off date, employees may not realize their account is relevant to their current needs, and can be used to help pay for care right now.
But employers can help make a change. You can empower employees to take an active role in their health by encouraging the use of HSAs in funding their health care now and even providing insights on how they can shop for their health care to maximize their HSA dollars. Significantly, 25% of consumers who want to shop for care find it difficult to access the right information, and nearly one-third of consumers simply rely on their primary doctor as the best option for treatment or a referral source. Employers have the opportunity to fill this knowledge gap by providing tools and resources for employees to shop for the right health care option.
And while many employees have stated that their health is more important to them now, one consequence of COVID-19 is that preventative care has been put on hold in the majority of communities. From annual well-care visits to vaccinations, dental appointments, and mental health sessions, it is critical for employers to communicate the importance of these preventative care services in maintaining good health and avoiding more serious health issues and high costs in the future.
It is also extremely important for employers to provide health resources to employees to make them aware of options like telehealth and alternative care to complement traditional in-person appointments in order to empower employees to take control of their health, even in uncertain times. By educating your employees and providing resources to help them find the best quality and cost-effective care, employers will in turn empower employees to become educated, engaged health care consumers.
This content, research and recommendations are provided "AS IS" and intended for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon for, legal, operational, tax, or other advice. The actual benefits and costs of any programs may vary based upon individual program requirements and business needs.