According to a Mercer news release, offering some type of health care advocacy service as part of an employer’s benefits package has been gaining momentum – the 2009 Mercer National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans found that 53% of large employers (500 or more employees) stated that they offer health advocacy services as part of their benefits package, up from 47% in 2008. However, this offering lags far behind other services such as health risk assessments (73%) and case management (82%).
With layoffs, benefit reductions, and salary freezes dominating news headlines since the beginning of the recession, Mercer says many employers should look at what kind of relatively small investments, like a health care claims advocacy service, they can make to re-engage employees and add further value to their total benefits offering.
In addition, Mercer suggests a health advocacy service can be a tradeoff for employers increasingly shifting more of the cost burden of health care to their employees. More than two-thirds of U.S. employers (69%) in Mercer’s survey indicated they will shift more health benefit cost to employees in 2010 via increased premiums and/or by raising deductibles, copays/coinsurance, out-of-pocket maximums and other methods, the news release said.
“Employers are increasingly asking employees to become more active and accountable for their health and their use of health services,” said Sander Domaszewicz, principal with Mercer’s health and benefits consulting business, in the news release. “One of the many benefits of a health care claims advocacy service is that it provides a balance to this requirement for increased responsibility with additional support when employees need it the most. It sends an empowering message that an employee doesn’t have to completely ‘go it alone’ when navigating the health care system.”