Every company has to deal with expensive and complicated health care benefits while trying to maintain a healthy bottom line. Having an employee health advocate can directly benefit a company in both areas.
Such advocates can help employees understand their health care benefits and resolve issues that inevitably come up in the increasingly complex world of health care. They also work directly between health care providers and insurers to resolve situations, leaving the company free to continue focusing on what it does best.
"Health insurance is such a big piece of the financial equation for an employer, typically number two after payroll," said Kristen Andonian, Vice President of Client Services for Alltrust, which acts as a health advocate for companies.
Here are five reasons an employee advocacy program can improve the health of your business:
1) Doctors' offices and insurance companies are typically 9-5 operations. Having an advocate to help your employees with health care and insurance-related issues, such as billing and coverage, means that your employees do not need to take work hours to deal with an issue. Your employee health advocate handles it. “This obviously helps with productivity and reduces employee stress,” Andonian said.
2) In addition to helping during office hours, an employee advocate can help employees get what they need, when they need it. Andonian recounts the story of an employee who had $30,000 in medical bills but was having difficulty getting the insurer to pay. Alltrust was able to act as a go-between and got almost the entire $30,000 refunded to the employee. With Alltrust stepping in on her behalf, she did not have to spend countless hours on the phone with the physician's office. This, in turn, allowed her to be more productive at work. That is the sort of situation that goes straight to a company's bottom line.
3) An employee advocate can explain benefits in easily understandable terms. For instance, the advocate will walk employees through when it is appropriate to go to the emergency room and when going to an urgent care center is adequate. This helps both the employee and employer save money because urgent care costs on average about half of an emergency room. Smaller claims mean lower renewal costs with insurance carriers — providing more tangible savings.
4) During open enrollment sessions, the advocate typically comes on site to explain the benefit plans in a professional and easy-to-understand way. When employees truly understand how their benefits work, they appreciate them more.
"An employer can offer great benefits to their employees, but if that is not communicated well, the benefits are not seen as valuable," Andonian said. "So employees not only understand their benefits better, they appreciate what the company is offering."
5) Finally, the employee advocate can act as an extension of a company's Human Resources department, freeing up HR to do the other work that is necessary for the company. That allows HR to work more efficiently and effectively.