In Q4 2021, Evernorth partnered with Ipsos to conduct a nationwide survey of more than 3,000 consumers with employer-sponsored health insurance, as well as hundreds of human resources decisions makers and health plan leaders. The objective was to gain insight into consumer attitudes, motivations and concerns about the future of health care following two years of a global pandemic.
The study revealed three key insights:
Insight #1: The Need for Balancing Virtual Visits with In-person Care
The pandemic propelled telehealth into the spotlight as it became the only option for many individuals to safely get care as doctors’ offices closed and urgent care clinics and emergency rooms overflowed with COVID-19 patients.
Recognizing the convenience and safety it offered, consumers continued to use telehealth even as in-person care became available again. From October 2019 to April 2021, telehealth visits increased from .3% to 29.6% of all visits conducted with health care providers.
While 75% of consumers agreed that more care will be provided virtually in the future – and their satisfaction with their telehealth experience was high – there have been notable shifts in the ways in which they see themselves using it.
As consumers continue to embrace virtual visits for primary care and behavioral health – noting the convenience of it – they prefer to be in-person for certain types of specialty care that require more physical interaction or an examination.
Going forward, a hybrid model that integrates in-person care with virtual options may be ideal. The degree to which plans encourage a shift to virtual care can be based on the demographics of their member populations and the likelihood of individuals to use virtual care for their health needs.
Insight #2: The Need for Behavioral Health Alignment Between Plan Sponsors and Members
Behavioral health is an area of health care that has garnered a lot of attention during the past several years within the medical community and among the general public. Even so, Evernorth’s survey indicates that plan sponsors and members differ on the best ways to address the issue.
While 66% of consumers report satisfaction with the behavioral health support and benefits they receive from their employers, only 21% reported being “very satisfied.”
One reason may be that plan sponsors are focusing on investing in solutions for treating mental health conditions, while members are putting an emphasis on broader benefits to help them reduce stress and anxiety, such as work-life balance.
Bridging the gap requires an emphasis on whole-person health, which means addressing all aspects of the member’s well-being – physical, behavioral, emotional, and social.
Insight #3: The Need for Improving Health Care Access and Affordability
Safety concerns persist even as the U.S. appears to be turning the corner with COVID-19. This foundation of fear is leading to a lack of trust and dissatisfaction among employees.
In addition to quality of care, members cite cost of care as a significant concern that has only grown more urgent as the pandemic raged on. This anxiety is driving employees to look for solutions outside their benefits, which is a troubling trend for plan sponsors.
Even with plan sponsors making marked investments to support members – including expanding access to virtual care options – the perception is that it’s not enough.
Better dialogue between employers and employees to foster collaboration could, in turn, help to restore trust and improve satisfaction.
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