Skin in the game is good. Skipping care is not.

By Csaba Mera, M.D., Deputy Chief Medical Officer
July 24, 2015
Preventive Care


When you use your own money to pay for health care, you go to the doctor less often. You might skip that screening when you feel okay. Or you might not want to pay the cost of the visit.

These findings of a landmark RAND study in the 1970s are still true today. People make these kinds of choices when they have high deductible health plans. The Boston Globe recently cited that research in How health plans with high deductibles became the new normal. These plans are increasingly popular with companies looking to curb costs of employee coverage.

Another finding is that people don’t know which care to skip. Putting these two together – avoiding cost and skipping care -- could add up to trouble. That’s a recipe for letting a condition go untreated too long, or not managing chronic conditions.

That’s why preventive care is baked into our health plans. These screenings and well visits are often called “free” health care. A better way to think of them is “prepaid.” You already bought this care with your premium. And that’s a good reason for you to encourage employees to use their preventive benefits.

Employee outreach. We help by going the extra step, especially when people have a real health risk. If you have an employee with diabetes who hasn’t seen an eye doctor in a while, that person might get a call from us. We want to remind them of that “free” screening. Such a call could save their vision.

Not everyone has specific high risks. So we might send your employees reminders about getting a routine cancer screening. We also email articles about getting flu shots and other preventive care benefits built into your plan in Idaho, Oregon, Utah, or Washington

If you hear from employees about communications like these, we’re just using the lessons from the RAND study. We call, we write, we email and tweet our followers about those preventive benefits. Helping you and your employees prevent health problems makes great sense. And it’s the right thing to do.