Everyone’s busy these days. And sometimes, the busy lifestyles we lead can have a negative effect on our health. Busy people often fail to get enough sleep, skip breakfast, get stressed out while sitting in traffic, eat junk food during the day because it’s quicker and easier than eating healthy, don’t drink enough water while at work, skip the gym because they’re too tired or don’t have time, and, yes, fail to go to the doctor on a regular basis. Instead of taking care of themselves like they should, they wait until they get sick, and then they want a quick fix so they can get back to their busy lives.
The fact that people should probably slow down, take a breath, smell the roses, and relax more is a topic for another day. In this article, we’ll share some ideas that you can pass on to your busy clients so they can get the most out of their health plan and fit much-needed health care into their busy schedules. If you have difficulty scheduling a meeting with some of your clients because they never have any time, they might benefit from these ideas.
Mail Order: Most health insurance plans offer a mail-order prescription benefit. With some plans, members can save money if they use the mail-order program for their maintenance medications, but the real benefit is the time savings. Members don’t have to worry about calling in their prescription every month or finding time to swing by the pharmacy; instead, they can put their prescriptions on autopilot. When explaining the mail-order option to your clients, you may want to emphasize the amount of time they can save by taking advantage of this benefit.
Telehealth: More and more health plans are including a telehealth benefit, giving members the opportunity to pick up the phone and call a doctor when they are sick instead of scheduling an appointment, driving to the doctor, and sitting in a waiting room full of sick people. The telehealth benefit can save members money, but more importantly, it can save them time so they can get back to work more quickly.
Retail Clinics: As our population continues to grow and the doctor shortage we’ve been warned about becomes more real by the day, wait times to see a doctor are increasing. On top of that, most doctors’ offices are only open during the workday, making it difficult for busy people to schedule an appointment. Perhaps that’s why retail clinics are growing in popularity. Several national drug store chains and even a number of grocery stores have opened retail clinics staffed with nurse practitioners and physicians assistants. These clinics have extended hours and are equipped to treat a number of minor conditions quickly and efficiently. A New York Times article entitled “The Undeniable Convenience and Reliability of Retail Health Clinics” confirms that the main reason patients visit retail clinics is because they are convenient, not because they are less expensive than a traditional doctor visit: “Patients who had a primary care physician, but still went to a retail clinic, did so because their primary care doctors were not available in a timely manner,” the report says. “A quarter of them said that if the retail clinic weren’t available, they’d go to the emergency room.”
Urgent Care: Speaking of emergency rooms, urgent care centers can be a great alternative to an ER visit when a medical condition requires quick attention but is not a true emergency. Like telehealth and retail clinics, which provide a cost-saving and time-saving alternative to a doctor’s visit, urgent care centers can provide patients with rapid medical care at a fraction of the price of an emergency room visit. Of course, if it is a true emergency, people should call 911 and go to the hospital. But for those who use the ER like a doctor’s office, urgent care centers can better meet their needs.
Gym Memberships: So far, we’ve spent our time focusing on ways that busy people can get medical care, but we all know that it’s better to take care of ourselves so we don’t get sick in the first place. Most people would like to be healthy, and they understand that regular exercise is necessary to accomplish that goal. However, finding time to go to the gym can be a challenge. This is especially true for people who have a long drive to and from work through rush hour traffic. After a hard day’s work and a rough drive home, the last thing you want to do is go work out.
That’s where programs like the new gym membership benefit offered by some health plans can come in handy. For example, one large carrier gives members access to thousands of health clubs nationwide for just $25 per month. With many national and local fitness facilities to choose from, members can easily find a facility near the office so they can hit the gym before heading home, making it difficult for members to claim they can’t work out because it’s inconvenient. They’ll have to think of another excuse.
Auto-Draft: One final tip for busy people is for them to take advantage of the auto-draft option to pay their monthly health insurance premiums. Does it save a huge amount of time? No, but it is one less thing that they have to remember to do. For someone who already has too much on his or her plate, that can be big.
If you have other time-saving tips for busy clients, please pass them on—we’d love to share them. AHCP works with a lot of brokers, and collectively we have a lot of great ideas, so please let us know if you have a strategy that could help your fellow agents.