Thought Leadership

What’s the difference between a good and a great health plan?

Poppins Health and C&A Benefits recently co-hosted a webinar to discuss the unique ways businesses can differentiate themselves using health benefits. Featuring C&A President Christina King and Poppins Chief Revenue Officer Brodie Stone, the webinar also explored how small businesses can get the most value of the health plan they choose, and how to find one that works best for their business and employees. 

Below is a condensed transcript of the webinar, as well as some key examples, edited for clarity and length. 

Christina King

So many conversations I have with employers around the country are around recruiting and retaining our good employees. And I feel strongly that we can't have those conversations without talking about our benefits – specifically health insurance. I mean, let's face it, we're all being judged by our current staff and by potential candidates. I'm not going to be able to come across all this money to give everybody the raises or additional benefits that they're wanting. 

So the question is: What if we could redirect what we're already spending on employee benefits and to instead better care for our employees and offer better benefits? That is going to improve our overall recruiting strategy. 

We're all paying more for less every year. And as employers, we're paying a lot of money for health insurance that our employees cannot afford to use.

Brodie Stone 

You’re exactly right, Christina. The problem is that the expenses that fall on individuals have risen dramatically. It's forcing people into really difficult situations. A hundred million Americans have some form of medical debt. Yet health insurance products haven't changed. Ultimately we want to ensure that the premiums that employers are paying are then being spent on the highest value care as we think about it, which is the highest quality that we can get at the lowest cost.

An example of a breakdown in transparency and quality 

  • Traditional health insurance member
  • Referred to a hospital to have a minor outpatient procedure, should have cost $6,000
  • Ended up costing $27,000 – patient owes $5,000 for deductible and co-insurance
  • Quality score of surgeon that did the procedure: 20/100

Christina King 

A great health plan lowers our employer costs and eliminates most if not all of the employees' costs when they go to get the care that they need for themselves and their family. It also has transparency of cost. It’s more than just the cost of a procedure – it’s about the care our employees receive. A great health plan would allow you to have a different conversation and say we do things differently here. We care about our employees, and our goal here is to provide you better care at an affordable price. 

Brodie Stone 

What’s important to know is that higher prices do not mean higher quality in healthcare, which is quite different from pretty much every single other industry that we have around us.

As enrollment season continues, you may be wondering whether your plan is actually acting in the best interest of the employees. You can evaluate from three different levels. 

  1. Transparency. Can people understand the basics? Can they understand what it's going to cost them and whether they're going to see a high quality doctor? And as the employer, do you have some degree of transparency into where your premiums are going?
  2. Behavioral Health. This is certainly becoming a bigger topic this year, and it's driving more medical spend. It should be a topic of conversation when it comes to your renewal plans.
  3. Employee Experience. This encompasses everything from open enrollment, to when the plan year starts…how do employees know where they should go or what the doctors are going to cost them or how the plan works? These are things that the plan should be communicating. They should be educating your people on a regular basis. When employees need care, that's when they need to be educated and engaged. And that's key to the employee experience. 

Case study: C&A Benefits and Poppins Health 

  • C&A Benefits client, switching insurance carriers year after year due to rising costs
  • As a result, they dodged big increases but disrupted employee care
  • C&A brought Poppins as an option and both teams led a smooth transition 
“Anytime we move a group, we always hear noise from the employees. A month in, I kept saying, What's going on with this group? We're not getting phone calls. I check in with Poppins and they’ve got everything handled. The next month, I told my team we've got to make ourselves available because the worst thing that could happen is that we get the feedback that something bad has been going on for months and we didn't know anything about it. Yet we only got great feedback from the employees.” - Christina King 

Brodie Stone 

A big thing that Christina and her team do is navigate the sea of options out there and really boil it down to like, Hey, here are a couple options that could be a fit. And my job is, Hey Christina, is this actually a fit for Poppins?

Christina King 

I'm very proud that we are so hands on with our clients. We're always on site for the employee benefit meeting, and Poppins has joined us too. We want employees and their families to know who we are and that we're accessible and approachable. Poppins really has been doing the heavy lifting with the member communication and where to go and how to seek care.

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