Here in New Zealand, we’re fortunate to have a health system that keeps our hospitals free and our accidental injuries at least partly covered. But what about everything else? Health insurance is a common pathway to help add extra financial security to our health that is often chosen by employers, but it’s not without its drawbacks – including one key thing that’s important to Kiwis when it comes to their health: choice.
So what’s the solution being put forward by leading organisations that have listened to what their employees want? Employer aid – delivered via taking health funds that would otherwise go into the hands of an insurer or other pathway, and redirecting it into an employees’ personal health wallet that is available to spend on any medical or health-related appointment, service, product or co-payment for themselves or anyone in their family. And the services they select are entirely their decision. Here are three key benefits of employer aid and how they’re affecting both New Zealanders and our businesses.
- Empowered With Control & Choice
With employer aid, employees gain control and choice of how they care for their health without being limited to strict policies that don’t acknowledge their personal circumstances. These are the same policies that can otherwise leave them facing exclusions for their pre-existing (and likely prominent) conditions, experiencing significant stand-down periods that mean that they either have to wait to get the care they need or it has to come out of their personal wallet, or simply exclude the services they need the most due to the ‘standard’ plan a business chooses.
Strict policies also fail to acknowledge the individual health-related circumstances that can have profound emotional and physical effects on a person may not be something ‘textbook’ that you’ll find in an insurance plan – like struggling with natural conception pathways. Or if their personal health and wellness is being impacted by the illness of a family member who gets no benefits from their insurance plan, adding to the financial strain of the employee who steps in to help cover the costs.
This is where HealthNow’s health wallet, contributed directly to via an employer aid plan, solves all of these problems and restores choice and control to those who need it.
- The Money Is Used Every Year
Health insurance is often viewed as the backup you have when something goes wrong. For those who maintain relatively good health, it can feel like the money is just exchanging hands every year, without them reaping many benefits or the full costs recouped. Even when claims are made, they’re not guaranteed to be accepted, with only between 62% to 72% of private health insurance claims lodged being paid out, according to 2020 NZ data.
Members are free to decide whether to keep the funds contributed through employer aid available in the HealthNow wallet for when something goes wrong, or to make general health improvements before pain or injury starts. This can look like seeing a chiropractor to address any back niggles or desk ergonomics and work posture before they turn into a painful problem with a lengthy recovery. Or helping improve comfort during periods of sickness like picking up that air humidifier to help ease congestion and improving breathing quality – especially if you have young children in the home.
- Healthier, Happier Employees With Fewer Sick Days
Redirecting employer aid into an employee’s health wallet isn’t without benefits for a business, either. Research shows that when employers support the health and wellness of their employees it:
- Leads to happier and more engaged work environments
- Reduces unplanned or elongated sick periods
- Increases productivity and morale
- May encourage employee retention
Sick days can be a big issue for businesses, estimated to cost NZ employers in excess of one billion dollars per year in addition to the risk of lowering productivity by 18%. This is before the current assessment of health access where up to 24% of individuals are delaying and neglecting health due to cost barriers.
Beyond absenteeism is also the issue of presenteeism – attending work whilst ill and therefore not performing to your full ability. When health circumstances are affecting a person in not just a physical capacity but a mental or emotional capacity, the result can lead to presenteeism. While mental and emotional struggles are often not covered by general health insurance policies, a person can choose to use their health wallet funds to address these issues, whether that looks like therapy services, vitamin supplements, sleep aids – you name it.
Get Your Business On Board
Getting your business set up to contribute to your employees health wallets is free and easy – and can be implemented with no additional out-of-pocket costs than what you’re already paying towards their health insurance plans or other wellness measures. Payments can be automatically made monthly or at a frequency and dollar value that you choose. You can leave your employee’s health wallets open to be used on any health or medical service with HealthNow, or specify the services you’d prefer.
HealthNow provides updates on your impact to help you measure the value of employer aid within your company. Your contributions are not subject to the Fringe Benefits Tax, are free for your employees to use (they even get a free $10 credit with their free sign-up), and HealthNow has an ever-growing trusted network of medical providers to keep your staff healthy and happy.
To get started, register your company’s interest via this contact form and a HealthNow team member will get back to you promptly.