How to Help Employees Avoid Medical Billing Nightmares

September 16, 2020

The trend toward high-deductible health plans to combat rising healthcare costs coupled with the fact that a majority of Americans have less than $1,000 saved for emergencies has meant that medical bills are still cited in roughly 2/3rds of bankruptcies, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Most of those claims are filed by people who already have health insurance.

Recovering from illness or dealing with a family member who has medical issues can be hard for your employees. The stress of navigating medical billing together with the unexpected expense can detract from your employee's sense of well-being and result in lower productivity.

In fact, the mere specter of medical bills can also produce "healthcare avoidance" in employees - which can ultimately result in more serious health conditions and potentially life-threatening delays in treatment. A recent HealthPocket survey suggests that 51% of respondents avoided medical care and 78% were afraid to go to the hospital.

In some cases, care-avoidance can have dire consequences. For example, a 2019 study conducted by Harvard Medical School looked at the impact of high-deductible health plans on breast cancer treatment and diagnosis. The study found that low-income women enrolled in high-deductible plans skip care frequently, leading to potentially life-threatening delays in initial breast imaging screening (an average delay of 1.6 months), initial biopsy (2.7 months), diagnosis (6.6 months), and first chemo treatment (nine months).

As an employer, there is now a way you can protect your employees from financial distress and the headache of managing their medical bills while protecting against the consequences of high claims from delayed diagnoses. BHS is delighted to partner with HealthBridge, an innovative company born and bred in Grand Rapids & Traverse City, Michigan. HealthBridge runs in parallel with many company health plans, covering the costs and providing consolidated monthly statements with repayment options. The company was founded on the mission of simplifying healthcare for employers, employees, insurers and healthcare providers. After meeting with success during a pilot roll-out in 2019, the program continues to expand in West Michigan. As partners, BHS clients enjoy exclusive rates.

When an employee gets the care they need, HealthBridge pays their costs immediately – copay, deductible, and coinsurance included. Then HealthBridge sends a single, consolidated, monthly statement that includes bills from multiple hospitals, clinics, or doctor’s offices. Members then have the option to pay the entire statement upfront (for a 10% discount) or to pay the balance over a longer period of time, up to 24 months.

Consolidated billing and reasonable repayment options help reduce stress and fear-of-care-cost in employees, particularly those in high-deductible plans. It gives your people financial security and flexibility. Ultimately, this results in a happier, more productive workplace. While the platform is in its early days and is not yet available with every benefit plan, we're predicting rapid growth throughout the state.

Connect with a BHS Benefit Specialist to see if HealthBridge is a fit for your benefit package.