Do Employee Health Plans Need a Shot In the Arm?

Research from Accenture shows that 82 percent of employed people believe their employers or health plans should provide health and wellness programs. However, these programs are falling short of employees’ needs and expectations.

One key finding of Accenture’s research is that awareness and utilization of health and wellness services was extremely low, even for basic services such as a tool to help users find in-network healthcare providers.

Employers are increasingly looking outside of health plans to help their employees access health and wellness services. In fact, 44 percent of employers said they use a third-party provider to support their wellness program. However, the lack of awareness of these programs, whether offered by an insurance company or a third-party vendor, means that health plans need to rethink how they design, market, and operate these products.

Accenture’s research shows that employees use health and wellness programs more when there is a digital engagement element, and that most who engage digitally say they access the program at least once a week.

Business-to-consumer and third-party models such as those provided by Accolade (a McKesson Ventures portfolio company), Omada, and Ovia Health, are leading the way and showing health plan providers what they need to do in order to avoid being pushed out of the health and wellness support services sector.

Employees are becoming important influencers when it comes to health and wellness programs. Employee requests influenced 59 percent of employers, while brokers or consultants influenced 43 percent of employers, and 47 percent of employers were influenced by industry peers.

To compete, health plans need to create relevant, multi-channel services that are digitally enabled. In order to do so, they need to listen to what employees want, be future-ready (for example, look to artificial intelligence as the new user interface), and tap into the digital ecosystem to see if there are other companies with which they can partner in order to offer the best employee health and wellness program experience.

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