Choosing Wisely: How employers benefit from making the right choices during open enrolmentAppeared in Smart Business LA County | August 2011
How long do people spend choosing a hospital, doctor and health plan during open enrollment? The average is just 16 minutes. By minimizing time spent making selections, people hope to make the process less painful. But the opposite may happen. Without careful selection, they may end up lacking the choices they will need later on.
Open enrollment is like putting together a complex puzzle. The more employees try to make sense of the options offered, the more they end up confused in the process.
As open enrollment season approaches for numerous businesses, Smart Business turned to Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System, to learn more.
Why is open enrollment so important?
What many don’t realize is that when they select a doctor, they determine the entire course of their health care. This includes the hospital they’ll go to for inpatient and outpatient care.
What’s the best approach?
With HMOs, the doctor (or network) selection determines the specialists one can see. That’s why it’s important to have a big-picture perspective before signing on with a health plan. Are you satisfied with your medical, dental, vision and drug plans? And are you comfortable with your current primary care physicians acting as your gatekeeper or do you want increased flexibility? Review these and other issues before making a change.
Where do I start?
How are physicians selected?
What are the next steps?
How can employers improve open enrollment?
Improve the process with comprehensive communications, benefit plan meetings and other activities to ensure employees fully understand their options and ramifications of their choices. Explain basic insurance terms, the differences between co-payment and co-insurance, impact of deductibles on premiums and out-of-pocket expenses and costs of out-of-network care.
Hospitals and physicians can help. Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Community Hospital Long Beach, Miller Children’s Long Beach and our affiliated physicians and services offer employers assistance through benefits and health fairs, wellness programs, executive physicals and information, data and education on how to select the best plan, lower benefit costs and access the highest-quality health care.
Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., is the president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System. The not-for-profit MemorialCare Health System includes Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach, Community Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills and San Clemente. For additional information on excellence in health care, please visit memorialcare.org.
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