Employers across the country are making significant progress towards creating diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces. As the eighth most diverse state in America and at home in almost 20 Fortune 500 companies, Florida has the opportunity to be a leader and a change maker in business diversity, equity and inclusion (DCI).
Beyond being the right thing to do, DEI makes business sense. Almost 80% of workers say they want to work for a company that values DEI. With Florida’s shrinking workforce, employers are wise to consider all of the competitive advantages.
One of the most overlooked factors in building an inclusive workplace is health insurance, which also happens to be a benefit for employees. care about most. Growing evidence suggests that some common elements of insurance design, such as deductibles, act as barriers to care and exacerbate health disparities. Business leaders need to take an honest look at how health plan design contributes to disparities and be willingly engaged in driving change.
Designing a “one size fits all” plan is not enough. Coverage is inherently inequitable if it treats all employees as if they are the same – because they are inherently different – and health needs vary from person to person.
To truly help individuals achieve their best health, designing a personalized health plan should be embraced by employers. Benefits must be built to meet people’s unique needs and address the disparities inherent in a “one-size-fits-all” design.
Why not personalize the grants?
As an employer, you can choose what to cover and how much to cover. What if you reinvented the common practice of making grants equal for all and, instead, provide health coverage that prioritizes individuality, diversity and inclusiveness?
Truly inclusive health care coverage defines subsidy strategies to actively address known health inequalities. It also takes into account the needs of the whole person, including mental health and nutrition.
Custom Subsidy allows you to set coverages based on income level, giving you the ability to reduce cost sharing for low-income employees or hourly workers who may be more likely to avoid care due costs. This is especially important in Florida, as it ranks 49th for the worst income inequalities in America.
A 2018 CDC investigation found that 40% of Americans avoid medical tests or treatment, and 44% do not seek treatment when sick or injured because of the cost. He also found that 86% of those who delayed or skipped care had insurance. So, access to insurance coverage is not really the problem; it’s the blanket itself that doesn’t work.
Truly inclusive employers look to and support people who face greater challenges in accessing health care. They know and appreciate the difference between equality and fairness. Low-income people of all races are at a disproportionate risk of becoming sicker and dying at a younger age. It’s not good.
We know that addressing health disparities improves the overall quality of care and leads to a healthier population. We also know that inclusive workplaces demonstrate higher productivity, achieve greater innovation, and recruit and retain better talent. But to achieve inclusiveness, you must recognize that your workforce has individualized needs.
As an employer, you have the power to help your employees choose the treatments and providers that are best for them. You can give them contextualized choices based on their needs – a range of clinical providers, advocacy and support that reflect their unique racial, cultural, ethnic, and LGBTQ + needs.
You can refer your employees to providers who provide culturally, ethnically and linguistically appropriate care. You can give them health plans that show side by side treatment costs and quality ratings.
Contextualizing health coverage is celebrating the uniqueness of your employees. It’s about protecting their long-term health by helping them overcome barriers to care.
Rigid or “static” health plans often leave employees overinsured or underinsured. If employees aren’t paying too much premium for coverage they never use, they’re paying out of pocket for unforeseen or emergency care.
Personalized health benefits turn insurance into a decision-making platform that enables people to achieve their best health affordably and avoid unnecessary or low-value care along the way.
Imagine the peace of mind of visiting a healthcare provider and knowing the exact cost of your visit ahead of time – without worrying about a deductible or paying 20-30% coinsurance. Imagine the freedom of being able to shop for the cheapest and most profitable treatments. How much value would your employees place on such a health plan experience?
Personalized coverage allows your employees to choose the care best suited to their needs, while knowing the exact cost in advance.
Can your workplace be truly inclusive without inclusive benefits? We have to face the reality that the answer is no. One-size-fits-all approaches to everything, including health benefits, fail to leverage the superpower that comes from meeting the unique needs of our employees.
Now is the time to stand up and do something different. For anyone who has ever felt that their needs were not being met by health care. For all those who have held several jobs to afford a franchise. For all of us.
Florida’s richly diverse workforce deserves inclusive and personalized benefits that meet all identities, cultures, and healthcare needs. And it’s good for business. Employers who are motivated to act will have a head start in the talent race.
Marcus Thygeson, MD, MPH has served both sides of healthcare, as an attending physician and health plan executive. He is Link the benefits chief medical officer of health.