Thousands of people have been putting off preventative care and screenings to adhere to social distancing. But once they feel comfortable seeing the doctor again, how can employers ensure their workforce is receiving the best care possible, at an affordable price?
Around six in 10 patients deferred medical care because of the pandemic, according to a survey by the Chicago-based medical practice TransUnion. At some point, all that nonessential care — orthopedic surgeries, colonoscopies, mammograms, etc. — is going to need to be addressed, and providers are likely to get overwhelmed by patient volume. David Vivero, co-founder and CEO of Amino — a healthcare price transparency tool — says employees who are unable to visit their normal practitioners may be forced to look elsewhere, with little understanding of the underlying costs.
“People won’t be afraid to leave home anymore, and they’ll go out and get the care they need,” Vivero says. “A lot of providers are going to be backlogged, and people may go wherever care is available. Employers need to provide members with the insights to shop for care wisely.”
Employers should be investing in benefits that make it easy for employees to see what they’ll pay when they visit different healthcare providers, Vivero says. Healthcare price transparency benefits show consumers what they’ll pay for medical procedures at different providers in their area. These benefits also provide data on patient outcomes, so users can determine the quality of the medical facility.
Due to anexecutive orderby President Donald Trump, starting early next year, healthcare providers will be required to provide price information for consumers based on zip codes. Providers have until the year 2024 to make this information available through digital tools.
“With its new price transparency rule, it’s placing a greater emphasis on having clear, accessible pricing information for consumers before service, which ties back to the increasing trend of healthcare consumerism,” said Jonathan Wiik, principal of healthcare strategy at TransUnion Healthcare, in a survey report.
But employees don’t want to wait to be able to compare prices. According to TransUnion, around 47% of employees decided on healthcare providers based solely on price, and 80% used provider websites and online tools to inform their decisions.
“Healthcare consumerism is growing, perhaps in part due to the economic and financial challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said David Wojczynski, president of TransUnion Healthcare, in the survey report. “Our latest survey illustrates to providers just how important it is to offer flexible care delivery options and payment experiences for their patients during this period of uncertainty, as well as understand and address individual payment needs.”
Vivero says employers should consider adopting price transparency benefits, like Amino, so employees don’t have to wait to make informed decisions about their care. Tools like this can ensure employees are using quality, in-network providers.
“If things get backed up, employees may feel like they have to take what they can get,” Vivero says. “They may go out-of-network, or go to a surgeon with less than desirable outcomes. Tools like this can make sure they get quality care.”
Vivero also recommends adopting flexible scheduling to ensure employees can attend available appointments.
“It’s a great way to show employees you care about their health and well-being,” he says.