What Happens When You Remove Cost as a Barrier to Care for Your Employees?

March 1st, 2021

Are you doing everything you can to support your employees’ overall wellness? Sure, you might say. We offer great health insurance and a flexible work environment. We compensate our employees fairly and encourage everyone to use their PTO. 

This all may be true, and is certainly worthy of recognition. But it may not be enough. With the rising out-of-pocket costs associated with even the most competitive health insurance programs, many Americans find themselves caught between getting the care they need, and maintaining financial stability. 

When your employees are forced to choose between physical and financial wellness, everyone suffers. But there is a way to help your employees afford the care they need -- and it might not be as expensive as you think. 

The Real Cost of Rising Out-of-Pocket Costs

Most employer-sponsored health insurance plans require employees to meet a certain out-of-pocket deductible before they are able to get the full benefits of their coverage. Many plans offer an HSA component, and even offer matching to help employees save for those initial costs in a tax-advantaged account.

But HSAs might not be the answer to the deductible problem: A study published in EBRI this year found that 40% of people with HSAs withdrew more than they contributed, which may be an indication that many account holders are encountering problems with cash flow.

This is supported by a 2019 study from the Federal Reserve: When faced with a hypothetical $400 expense, about 37% of Americans would not be able to pay using cash or its equivalent -- and instead would resort to more toxic payment methods:

- Using a high-interest credit card 

- Withdrawing from emergency savings

- Applying for payday loans or wage advancement

- Borrowing against retirement 

Or, they might choose to maintain financial stability and not get the care they need: Even among the insured, 25% of people report delaying or postponing their care due to an inability to pay. Dental care was most frequently skipped treatment (18%), followed by visiting a doctor (14%), and taking prescription medication (9%). 

The Physical Toll of Financial Stress 

Far too many employees find themselves in the impossible situation of choosing between health and financial security for themselves and their families. 

But it’s a false choice: Those who choose to postpone or delay their care due to inability to pay inevitably are forced to suffer the health consequences. And those who resort to toxic payment methods to afford their care become more at risk for negative health outcomes: Researchers have consistently found that financial stress negatively impacts health, often contributing to migraines, heart disease, insomnia, and deteriorating mental health

This is supported by a study released by the National Institute of Health (NIH), which showed that individuals with self-reported high debt stress are more likely to suffer from a wide array of illnesses compared to individuals with low debt stress. High-debt-stress individuals are:

- Almost three times more likely to suffer from migraines/headaches

- Twice as likely to suffer from heart attacks

- Twice as likely to suffer from insomnia

- Six times more likely to suffer from severe depression

- Seven times more likely to suffer from severe anxiety

They’re also less likely to be at their best when they show up for work: According to a PwC survey, 34% of Generation X, 16% of baby boomers, and 37% of millennials report being distracted by finances at work. 

And when the stress is too much to bear, they can’t show up at all: Employees enduring financial stress have been shown to take twice as many sick days compared to less-financially stressed employees. 

Removing Cost as a Barrier to Care

As an employer, removing cost as a barrier to care for your employees makes pure financial sense. By helping your employees afford those out-of-pocket costs, you not only provide them with the ability to maintain their physical and financial wellbeing. You also protect your business against the large claim risk that can take health insurance costs from significant to astronomical. 

There are two groups that are most vulnerable to not receiving the care they need: Those who make less than $40,000 per year, and those with one or more preexisting conditions.

When looking at large claim risk, these two groups (and especially employees who fall into both categories) are most likely to produce large claims. Intervening to make sure they get the care they need makes financial sense to mitigate this risk. 

But it also makes sense for employees who don’t fall into either category: Those who are relatively healthy and earn above $40,000. When those employees can readily meet their out-of-pocket healthcare expenses, they’re more likely to get the routine and preventative care they need -- making them even less likely to produce large claims, as well. 

The question is: How?

Paytient Makes It Possible

Paytient is an employer-sponsored payment platform for employees' medical expenses. We bring your employees access to health care by helping them afford the out-of-pocket costs. 

Here’s how it works:

- Each time an employee uses Paytient, we fund the transaction. The doctor’s office, hospital, or pharmacy gets paid in full at that time, and your employee gets the care they need. 

- Then, your employee has the option to choose how to pay their bill - either from their paycheck over time (with 0% interest), or from their HSA or FSA.

Structured as a simple subscription, offering Paytient is an effortlessly generous way to enable your employees to get the care they need, without jeopardizing their financial wellness. 

There is a way to remove cost as a barrier to care for your employees -- it’s called Paytient. Give your employees a better way to pay for their care. Get started today.

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