Under an old way of thinking about healthcare, benefits can be separated into six distinct categories – medical, vision, pharmacy, dental, life, and disability. Under this outdated model, benefits are managed in siloes, often by different insurance providers, which hinders the sharing of crucial health information and creates inefficiencies. It prevents a ‘whole person’ approach to meeting people’s healthcare needs. However, Anthem’s recently published fourth edition of the biennial “Integrated Health Care Report,” shows the growing trend towards integrating healthcare benefits is now being adopted by a majority of employers surveyed.

Integrated healthcare eliminates the disconnect by combining two or more of the six benefit categories under one carrier, which in turn creates a cost-effective, streamlined process that benefits both the employee and employer. This is essential for employees with complex medical histories and chronic illnesses to receive more personalized care and better diagnoses.

Achieving Better Care through Collaboration

By offering an integrated healthcare plan, care providers are encouraged to work with one another to provide care that connects patients’ medical data with their dental, vision, pharmacy, and disability data and takes into account ‘whole person health.’ This ultimately leads to better care as it creates a personalized healthcare experience.

For instance, patients who suffer from diabetes tend to also be at an increased risk for periodontal disease, making diabetes harder to manage, but through Anthem’s Whole Health Connection® integrated healthcare approach, these patients are afforded additional dental visits as part of their plan to better maintain and manage their oral health. Providing a variety of care options through integrated care leads to better health outcomes.

Additionally, there are signs of diabetes and cardiovascular disease that can be detected through a basic eye exam. Considering that Americans are three times more likely to get annual exams compared to undergoing an annual physical, the importance of integrated health plans is clear, as eye exams can lead to early detection of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Offering integrated benefits that combine all aspects of a person’s health can prevent life-threatening complications or even invasive and expensive surgeries.

Integrated Healthcare Plans are the Future

Many employees across the U.S. are drawn to companies not only by the job description but because of competitive integrated healthcare offerings. These offerings continue to be more attractive to employees in no small part due to the natural appeal of having all their medical needs under one umbrella. The study shows that 56 percent of surveyed employers are actively integrating benefits while 40 percent are considering or potentially considering integrating their medical, pharmacy, dental, vision, and/or disability benefits. Additionally, 71 percent preferred integrating benefits through a single carrier vs. multiple carriers in order to optimize the positive impact it has on employee health.

The study also shows that 89 percent of employers believe that an integrated healthcare benefit program increases employee happiness leading to increased productivity, while 88 percent agree that benefit offerings should be personalized to the individual. Additionally, 88 percent of employers agree that emotional health, including behavioral and mental health issues, will move to the forefront, meaning there will be an increased importance placed on integrated benefits.

By offering simplified, affordable, and effective healthcare, integrated plans make a tremendous impact on the overall health of employees. Integrated health benefits is an important component of the Whole Health Connection, creating a more personalized approach to better meet the needs of consumers.

Watch this short video to learn more about integrated healthcare benefits and how employers are lowering healthcare costs, improving employee health outcomes and boosting productivity by integrating data and care management across employee benefits programs.