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Increase noted in employers undertaking new health advocacy benefits

Employee Benefits
by Cabe Chadick and Tom Handley
Does the ACA impact how consumers shop for health care?
Does the ACA impact how consumers shop for health care?

While numerous businesses large and small now extend their employees the option of enrolling in company-sponsored health insurance programs, many are now also beginning to extend a new, related benefit that can provide even greater help.

A growing number of companies are taking up a type of employee benefit known as health advocacy as a supplement to the typical healthcare insurance coverage they already provide. This coverage acts as a means of giving workers a little more help in dealing with their policy providers, according to a report from Employee Benefit News. Having someone with a little more power on their side - such as their employer - might make it easier to navigate the often tricky world of coverage rules, deductibles and maximums.

Recent data suggests as many as half of all companies nationwide will now offer some sort of healthcare advocacy or similar service to their employees, and experts say the practice is growing more common because these programs may actually help to reduce insurance costs, the report said. That's because when workers and their companies are able to determine the most efficient ways to deal with coverage and other issues that can often crop up when dealing with insurance premiums, doctors' payments and more.

Some companies even find these programs to be so effective in trimming costs related to healthcare that they actually incentivize use of them among their employees. One executive told the site that while healthcare costs continue to rise for many companies, use of these programs slows the growth on an annual basis, usually from 6 percent for non-participants to 4 or 5 percent for those that utilize them.

It's for these reasons that we think companies look into the benefits of offering advocacy services. Reducing costs and increasing worker satisfaction are two things that can be of tremendous value to businesses, both financially and in terms of the overall health of the company.

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