by HealthPartners

Your employees want something. And it’s something that will save your business money. This alignment of priorities is possible when you offer employees the type of benefits that enable integrated health care.

So what is integrated health care? Read on to learn what it means and what to consider when shopping for benefits for your employees.

What is integrated health care?

If you have questions about integrated health care, you’re not alone. The topic is confusing since the term can refer to the inpatient care model, the health system model and a model for health plan benefits.

At a broad level, integrated health care is about collaboration and communication. It’s an interprofessional approach to addressing the health needs of patients. And as a benefits strategy, it’s a way to connect care by offering medical, dental and pharmacy benefits through the same company – an approach that provides numerous advantages for employers and employees alike.

How does a patient care model relate to integrated health care?

When used to describe a patient care model, integrated health care is synonymous with a more holistic and tailored approach to patient care – one which focuses on a patient as a “whole person” and incorporates more complementary therapies in the process.

Rather than just treating specific symptoms or illnesses from a physical standpoint, patient-centered health care considers all aspects of a person – physical, emotional, behavioral, mental, spiritual and social. With this approach, patients have more say in their health care decisions.

There is a growing body of research showing the benefits of this approach, including improved physical, mental and emotional well-being.

How does the health system model relate to integrated health care?

Not all health care systems are set up to support an integrated approach to patient care. Some need to alter the nuts and bolts of how they deliver care. Some need a shift in mindset.

Delivering the best patient care depends on having access to all applicable health information. So one crucial piece of the integrated care puzzle is having patient information, records and health histories in a central data repository. Integrated health care systems such as HealthPartners have the technology and processes in place to collect, maintain and safeguard this data.

When health information isn’t integrated, doctors can miss opportunities to improve patient care. For example, if a primary care doctor doesn’t have access to dental records, an early detection of health conditions like cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes can fail to occur.

How do health plan benefits relate to integrated health care?

From a benefits perspective, an integrated health plan involves providing multiple benefits through the same insurer. Those benefits typically include medical, dental, pharmacy and employee assistance.

A doctor discusses something on his open laptop with two other doctors.

Why integrated health plans are a smart business solution

Developing a benefits strategy often involves weighing competing priorities. How can you keep your employees happy while keeping costs down?

With integrated health plans, everyone wins. So it’s no wonder that this approach is the preferred option for most employers.

Consider these five advantages:

1. Better for your employees

Integrated benefits provide a better patient experience all around. Your employees will appreciate the simplicity and clarity that comes with getting all of their benefits through one insurer. They will also benefit from the increased collaboration and information sharing that goes with integrated benefits.

Integrated benefits support coordinated care and clinical collaboration by helping providers see a bigger picture, potentially leading to an earlier diagnosis and more effective care. Your employees will feel more confident in treatment recommendations because they will know that their doctor understands the big picture of what’s going on with their health.

2. More cost effective in the long term

For most companies, cost is the top factor when choosing employer-provided group health insurance. Integrated health plans can save your business a significant amount of money over time. According to one study, those that integrated HealthPartners pharmacy and medical benefits saved 3.8% on average over those that kept pharmacy benefits separate. For employee groups of around 9,000 members, integrating benefits racks up savings of more than $1 million per year. And those savings are amplified when dental plans are integrated as well.

Savings can drastically increase with more serious health care needs and can reach well into the thousands of dollars for employees with chronic conditions. These numbers can really add up, especially since one in four adults has at least one chronic condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

3. Access to shared data

Integrated plans like HealthPartners provide shared access to electronic medical, dental and pharmacy records – a significant advantage for your employees. This shared data allows providers to identify health needs early on. For example, certain dental problems could be red flags for broader health issues like diabetes. Without access to dental records, medical providers could easily overlook those red flags, resulting in a delayed diagnosis (and more costly treatment).

With access to this shared data in real time, providers across multiple fields can collaborate more effectively. This can lead to better outcomes and more effective management of your employees’ health needs.

4. Simpler and more convenient

Integrating health benefits makes life easier for both employers and employees. Working with one insurer simplifies the process for employers and also streamlines open enrollment for employees.

Going forward, you’ll save time and energy on benefits administration and reporting. You won’t need to spend time setting up multiple carriers, and reporting will be less of a chore.

Likewise, your employees will be pleased that they don’t have to juggle logins to multiple sites or applications. Instead, they’ll be able to access all their insurance information – including their copays and deductibles, FSAs or HSAs, coverage information, care information and more – in one place.

5. Better for the workplace

Integrated benefits through providers like HealthPartners make it easier for employees to get and stay healthy. They drive higher employee engagement in health initiatives. And they provide the tools and resources to empower employees to take charge of their own health and well-being.

A healthier workforce is good for business. When employees are healthier, they take fewer sick days and are more productive at work. It’s a win-win all around.

Not all integrated health plans are equal

Before you start shopping around for integrated plans, here’s something to think about: Not all integrated health plans will offer the same features or value.

When considering integrated health plan benefits, it’s also important to consider the strengths of the individual plan options. At HealthPartners, we offer a full suite of integrated medical, dental and pharmacy benefits.

Why integrate with HealthPartners medical benefits?

When considering integrating health benefits, start by evaluating the quality of care and coverage. At HealthPartners, you don’t need to sacrifice quality for cost. We provide high-quality, affordable care.

There are many reasons why HealthPartners is a proven option, including a nationwide network of over 1 million providers and more than 6,000 hospitals.

We’re also at the forefront of offering the widest range of care options to help people get the care they want, when they need it. In addition to in-clinic appointments, we offer telehealth services that allow patients to schedule online appointments to meet with their choice of doctor.

Your employees can also take advantage of lower-cost services like Virtuwell and Doctor On Demand to get prompt care online or by phone without an appointment. Plus, our CareLine is available day and night to ensure our members get the answers they need.

Why integrate HealthPartners dental benefits?

There are many great reasons to consider HealthPartners dental benefits. Because oral health is linked to overall health, we offer valuable resources for people who need them most, including children and members with underlying health issues who may need more dental care. For example:

  • Our Little Partners℠ Dental benefit is an program that provides 100% coverage to children 12 and under at network dentists.
  • HealthPartners MouthWise Matters is an oral health education program that also includes a periodontal benefit for diabetics and expecting mothers. It provides 100% coverage for extra gum treatment, including root planing and scaling.

We know there are even more ways to make dental care safer and more effective, so we continue to invest in research at our Center for Oral Health Integration.

Why integrate HealthPartners pharmacy benefits?

Pharmacy benefits vary greatly. Depending on how they’re structured, they can be fraught with hidden costs. Look for “carved in” versus “carved out” benefits to maximize your value. Be aware that not every carved-in pharmacy offering is the same.

At HealthPartners, our pharmacy benefits aren’t just carved-in, they are also baked in and fully integrated with our medical benefit. Because HealthPartners provides both the necessary pharmacy and clinical expertise needed for medication decisions, as well as exceptional member support, we are better equipped to improve cost-effectiveness, transparency and patient safety and health.

An additional benefit: HealthPartners Employee Assistance Program

At HealthPartners, we offer an employee assistance program as a valuable resource. Employees can turn to this program for online or phone guidance during times of stress and change. The program offers one-on-one support from highly trained counselors on issues like financial struggles, grief and loss, parenting, elder care, legal needs, career aspirations and work-life balance. It’s just one way we go beyond medical treatment to care for the whole person.

Talk to your broker about integrating your benefits with HealthPartners

The health of your organization is linked to the health of your employees. Integrating employee benefits for medical, dental and pharmacy – and providing an integrated employee assistance program – is a smart way to improve health outcomes, increase employee engagement and keep your costs manageable.

HealthPartners offers a range of integrated health plan options for employers of all sizes in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota. We work with trusted regional partners to provide top-notch care and coverage. Talk to a broker about plan options in your region.