Cultivating a Culture of Health Care Consumerism

By Nate Szabo


If you are reading this article, you have pulled the wool back from your eyes and have made the decision to be an active consumer – controlling how your company spends their healthcare dollars. Kudos! Now is the really hard part: Educating your employees to be consumers of their own health care. Here are some tips to heighten employee engagement and empower your employees.

Step #1: Awareness 

While health insurance may not be the most glamorous topic, cluing in employees on how their decisions affect the company and their own pockets is always a good start. They may not be aware that their decisions will affect everything from premium increases to potential salary increases to the ability for the company to invest in new tools. As for their own spend, they could be throwing away money in copays by visiting poorly rated physicians or unknowingly paying for out of network doctors. Once your employees are aware of the role they play in your self-insured health plan, they will want to actively participate.

Step #2: Understanding the Process

Employees should purchase healthcare the same way they would purchase anything else. With the holiday season upon us, let’s discuss how you would go about securing everything on your family’s wish list. First, you review the product that you are purchasing, comparing different models and features. Second, look at the reviews by other purchasers to see if they are satisfied with the product. Finally, review multiple competing websites looking for the best prices and purchase your gift. This process that you completed to find one gift for an important person in your life took anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple hours. Why would you not spend the same amount of time on something important like your healthcare? How often do you spend time looking at the quality ratings for the doctor you are going to? Or how much a procedure costs at a hospital in comparison to an outpatient center? Purchasing healthcare is no different than purchasing anything else, so why don’t people go about it the same way?

Step #3: Getting Help

Because it’s hard. The healthcare industry has evolved into something confusing and convoluted with premiums, co-pays, co-insurances, and deductibles, as well as facility charges, professional charges, in network, out of network…the list goes on and on. This complicated system is why your employees are not practicing the same techniques they would use in a retail purchase as they would with a healthcare purchase. They are too busy, too tired, and too confused when it comes to keeping track of everything. Who could blame them? What are they to do?

The great news is that there are now tools and services available to employees to help them make better, informed decisions. Websites like cms.gov compile quality ratings from hospitals nationwide and are available to the public. Safety measures inserted into your company’s plan language like the requirement for pre-certifications on certain procedures can safeguard both the individual from unnecessary services and the company from additional costs. There are also strategic partners who provide services to make individuals better healthcare consumers, such as concierge services, second opinion, and reference-based pricing. 

In the end, the more employees know, the more they can actively participate in your company’s health plan. If workers are armed with the awareness that the choices they make matter, understand the concept of purchasing, and have the tools to help them, they will act as invested consumers. If you would like to learn more on how to empower your employees, contact our Cost Savings Investigators to learn more about services your employees can start using immediately.

Nate’s Bio

Nate Szabo is a graduate of John Carroll University with a degree in Political Science and a holds a Masters in Exercise Physiology from Cleveland State University. Prior to joining Roundstone, he was a Business Development Representative at the Visiting Nurse Association of Ohio. Nate brings experience from the medical device and healthcare industries to provide innovative solutions to Roundstone’s employer groups. As part of Roundstone’s Cost Savings Investigators (CSI Team), his responsibilities allow him to work with many departments to examine employer’s health spend. In his off hours, Nate constantly on the move either riding his bike to work, racing for a local bicycle team, or climbing a rock wall that he built in his garage. To relax and recover, he hangs out with his wife, friends and two rescue dogs.