Talent Tuesday: The Importance of Retaining Workforce Access to Health Care

By Devin Partida, Editor-in-Chief, ReHack.com
Twitter: @rehackmagazine

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world forever, including how employees work. More than ever, workers seek the flexible and remote opportunities they grew accustomed to during the pandemic.

The pandemic also changed the methods of health care used by providers and challenged providers to adapt by creating telemedicine and other virtual health care opportunities. During these changes, the number of workplaces offering employer health care benefits shifted as businesses took a hit and individually obtained health care opportunities have grown.

With the changes brought on by the pandemic, employers that aren’t required to provide health care may question whether it’s worth implementing or retaining health insurance for employees. The simple answer to that question is yes.

Recruitment and Retention

The pandemic triggered an increase in employee turnover, with more workers looking for new opportunities that allow them to work in a more flexible environment with competitive pay.

This can be frustrating to the HR manager, who has to constantly manage insurance enrollment and elimination, adding to the appeal of just cutting health care benefits altogether. Not to mention the cost of providing said benefits. However, employees have shown that health care benefits are a significant draw when taking a new job opportunity.

Surveys have indicated that nearly half of employees say health care benefits are an important or even a deciding factor in choosing an employer. One survey showed that 88% of employees consider health care benefits when accepting a job offer.

Employees are likely to pay less for an employer-sponsored health care plan than for a personal one. Having insurance provided or subsidized by their workplace makes the burden of finding and dealing with insurance less complicated.

A health care plan is not always enough to attract and retain quality employees, with another consideration being the offered plan’s quality. A third of employees have reported they are dissatisfied with their benefits, with the majority needing more help than the plan provides.

Employers should consider providing plan options with dental, vision, and mental health coverage, especially since 82% of employees with mental health conditions will not tell their employer about the condition. With mental health crises exploding since the pandemic, it makes sense to offer these plans for your employees’ well-being and a more productive, happier workplace.

Reliability and Productivity

When employers provide health benefits, they are making an investment in their employees that is likely to have a positive return.

Employees with insurance are more likely to see a doctor sooner when facing an illness or injury instead of waiting until the situation is an emergency. Employees with insurance benefits aren’t as likely to wait as long to get checked out, which means they are less likely to call in sick. If they need to take a sick day or two, they will likely return to work sooner than if they waited to go to the doctor.

Providing health insurance also means employees are more likely to receive preventive care to reduce the risk of chronic conditions that will lead to more absences, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. These conditions could also lead to major, life-threatening events for the employee, such as a heart attack or ketoacidosis.

Employees who don’t seek health care due to a lack of insurance are unlikely to be very productive at work. Employees can experience presenteeism where they are at work but check out to the point that they become unproductive.

Not only does that waste a workplace’s and employee’s time, but productivity loss due to health is also estimated to reduce economic output in the United States by $260 billion annually.

Retaining Health Care Access

Keeping workforce health care access can increase employee productivity and well-being. This will lead to happier employees, who are more likely to remain with the employer. Offering a quality health care plan will also boost recruitment success to support hiring for years to come.