October is Health Literacy month. A lot of our articles focus around this topic on a daily basis anyways, but I thought it prudent to really hone in and explore it. I’m quite festive so I think it’s fitting. We can look at health literacy, what it means and why it matters all day long. And we probably will. But right now I think its important to consider its impact on any given business. Just about every single one of us is given health insurance by our respective companies. So, it makes sense to look at how we use that insurance and what it means for our company at the end of the day (or plan year).
Let’s start by defining health literacy – it is “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions”.
It’s that last part that we’re really concerned about – “making appropriate health decisions”. And we’re not talking about eating vegetables or working out more. We’re talking about your ability to interact with your doctor, communicate what’s going on medically, and effectively pay your bills. Effective management of these things are really what drives the cost of your health plan up or down, regardless of what kinds of claims you have.
The part that most people struggle with is understanding what you do and do not have control over. You know that a certain percentage of your employee population is going to get sick or become diagnosed with a chronic condition. If we could prevent these things from happening then we’d be in a different business. What you can control is how people react when given these diagnoses. You can make sure that they are realistically equipped to handle whatever the healthcare system, doctors and insurance companies throw at them.
You may not be able to prevent diseases, but you can prevent poor handling of treating that disease. And your insurance plan will be much better off for it. I know it’s not fun to think of everything is purely financial. You want your employees to feel like their health is important, and talking about their health and money in the same conversation can be tough. But look at it this way – you want to have a health plan that the company can afford, and that its employees can afford.
1. Health literacy keeps your health plan affordable for you
If your plan is running at a 12% increase each year, you’re in for some serious trouble. You can’t possibly afford to maintain a plan with healthy benefits and keep your doors open at the same time. Check out this link for info on different plan designs and keeping your insurance healthy.
2. It keeps your plan affordable for your employees
If your employees can’t afford to pay their health insurance bills, they aren’t going to have a positive health outcome. This situation isn’t good for anybody, employer included. You want your employees to be able to pay their bills. Improving their health literacy is cornerstone to that goal. Click here to see more about how it can realistically be improved.
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