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Health Benefits for Hospital Employees: A Cautionary Tale

Chelsea Rice, for HealthLeaders Media, April 8, 2013

"In a health system, you have people in very low wage and very stressful jobs, so for that group in particular you would want a health plan that's very supportive of them, and it does everything it can to keep them from having a lot of out-of-pocket costs, including for getting services you hope they would not need because they have to pay for coinsurance, probably," says Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, a national nonprofit organization that represents large employers' perspectives on health policy issues.

An operating room technician with a family is going to need different options for his health plan than a single, childless surgeon. Healthcare employers should recognize these differences.

"A traditional hospital system is comprised of a number of different populations. It's no different in its demographics than food services and hospitality. Employers need to recognize the differences in how people learn and react to healthcare, because it is so important to how they think about their jobs. Microsegmentation—effectively communicating to an audience in a more precise, surgical approach—is much more preferable than rolling out a wide message," says Joey Dizenhouse, a professional services consultant for hospitals with HR consulting firm Towers Watson.

Know your workforce's priorities
The new group health HMO contains financial incentives for participation—$700 for single employees and $1,400 for families loaded into health savings accounts. These are substantial amounts—yet only 81% of eligible employees who are SEIU members have earned the health incentive, according to the hospital.

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