Millions of American workers are enrolled in private health care plans. However, enrollment in an insurance plan doesn’t necessarily equate to understanding how that plan works.
Health insurance brokers are dedicated to bringing clients the best possible care plans to help people, families, and communities manage and improve their health. A key element to successfully improving employee health is encouraging health literacy. Brokers who understand the importance of health literacy can spot insurance plans that embrace informed health decision-making, from navigating the US health care system to accessing benefits and coverage options like preventive care. As a health insurance broker, you can help your clients seek the care they deserve by explaining why health literacy matters and the advantage it brings to employees.
What is health literacy? Why does it matter to employee health?
In August 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated the definition of health literacy, dividing the term into two categories:
Personal health literacy - the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
Organization health literacy - the degree to which organizations equitably enable people to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
These new definitions of health literacy acknowledge a company’s role in improving employee health while at work. Employers cannot achieve a company culture of health and well-being for employees without first understanding the value of health literacy. Because employees use their personal health literacy together with that of their organization, employers bear the responsibility for investing in health education and resources that promote health equity.
Rather than viewing health literacy education as a burden, employers should think of it as an asset. It improves a company’s strategic corporate responsibility by fostering a culture of workplace health and helps your clients identify and access the best possible care for their employees. Remote work environments often lack enhanced structure and colleague support found in traditional office settings. With an increasing number of employees shifting to remote work, companies must be cognizant of how increased isolation could lead to stress, worsen symptoms of chronic illness and further impact productivity. Establishing a strong, informative, and empowering health culture within an organization that promotes nutritional education, disease prevention, mental health, and healthy living could lower the chances of developing a chronic condition, potentially saving employees—and employers—thousands in health care costs down the line.
Why is health literacy important for brokers?
Health insurance brokers are in a unique position when it comes to improving organizational health literacy and, in turn, employee health. By offering employers plans that improve employee access to care that are easy to understand, brokers play an important role in influencing a company’s health literacy levels. More than that, brokers help foster employee satisfaction by adopting plans that boost health literacy, leaving members with five key benefits:
1. Employees have reduced health care costs
Employees who understand their health plans are more likely to use their health plans. Workers often avoid accessing benefits their insurer offers over the fear of hidden costs. Thus, people are not only avoiding the doctor for needed services, but also preventive appointments, leaving plenty of time for seemingly minor conditions to become chronic and potentially serious. Ignoring preventive care measures may keep bills low in the short term, but result in much larger costs to treat more severe illnesses.
2. Employees are more productive
Not only are employees with a high level of health literacy more likely to visit their doctor, but they’re also more likely to understand and follow any treatment prescribed to them. Employees feel better faster, and their overall health improves—resulting in fewer sick days from work. When employees are free from worrying about their health, they are more focused and productive at work, meaning the whole organization benefits.
3. Employees are empowered in their health decisions
When health insurance plans are clear, concise, and direct, they empower employees to take charge of their well-being. Understanding what options are available under prospective insurance plans helps workers make informed health decisions. By prioritizing transparency in your health insurance offerings, you can eliminate the guesswork for your clients’ employees so they can focus on getting the care they deserve.
4. Employees self-manage their health conditions
Employers who promote health literacy practices in the workplace encourage employees to familiarize themselves with what services are available to them. Employees learn how to recognize signs and symptoms of flare-ups and will be more familiar with the available treatments. Employees with better health literacy can also more easily communicate their needs to their health care providers, leading to better long term management of the health condition.
5. Employees trust their health plan
When employees understand their health plan, they trust it. They trust that they won’t face difficulties in finding care options, receive surprise bills, or have to jump through hoops to access services. At the end of the day, employees should also trust that their employers are offering a comprehensive and affordable health plan—one that doesn’t use confusing jargon or complicated explanations. Incomprehensible insurance plans can sow mistrust. Conversely, health insurance companies that prioritize transparency and simplicity establish a foundation of trust, motivating employees to take a greater interest in health literacy.
Boosting employer satisfaction with better employee health
When employees have high health literacy levels, not only does their individual health improve, but they also help save billions of dollars for the industry. A recent study in Healthcare Finance News found that a high level of health literacy in the United States would eliminate nearly a million Medicare hospital visits and save the Medicare program roughly $25 billion per year.
Improving health literacy impacts more than employee health. Healthier employees are more likely to be eager to come to work for an organization they know supports them, reducing presenteeism and absenteeism and increasing employer satisfaction. Employers are likelier to stick with their health plan when employees understand and use it. Brokers can foster employer satisfaction by offering health plans that emphasize health literacy.
Curative is health plan that employees and employers will love. Our plan focuses on affordability, engagement, and simplicity, so people feel confident getting the care they need, when they need it. Imagine—a health plan that actually delivers better health.
People shouldn’t avoid doctor visits out of fear of surprise medical bills. After completing a Baseline Visit in the first 120 days of joining Curative, one monthly premium will enable:
$0 out-of-pocket fees
$0 preferred prescriptions
$0 deductibles for in-network care.
Curative builds engagement with employees from day one by facilitating trusted relationships with a Baseline Visit and Care Navigator. Members will complete a Baseline Visit within 120 days of plan effective date to create an individualized, preventive care plan with a Curative Care Navigator to reach their health and wellness goals. We also ensure members are connected to our large and inclusive provider network.
Curative makes care management virtually stress-free. The Curative Pharmacy has a partnership with a national network of pharmacies and even offers same-day delivery (for select cities). Members can access virtual urgent care in partnership with NormanMD in less than 10 minutes via messaging, audio, or video chat.
No copays. No deductibles. No...really. Curative is changing the way we view health insurance with a health plan that actually delivers health.
To explore how health insurance brokers can promote preventive wellness care with Curative’s Health Plan, visit here.
What is health literacy? (2 February 2022). Centers for Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/learn/index.html#:~:text=Personal%20health%20literacy%20is%20the,actions%20for%20themselves%20and%20others.
Employee health literacy heats up! Corporate Wellness Magazine. Retrieved February 28th, 2023, from https://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/article/finally-employee-health-literacy-now-thing
Hochmuth, N., & Sørensen, K. (2021). Corporate Application of Health Literacy. Health literacy research and practice, 5(3), e218–e225. https://doi.org/10.3928/24748307-20210710-01
Lagasse, J (27 October 2020). Improving healthcare literacy could save billions, improve outcomes. Healthcare Finance. https://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/improving-healthcare-literacy-could-save-billions-improve-outcomes
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