The Future of Consumer-Led HealthCare: What HR Teams Need to Know

The Institute for HealthCare Consumerism calls it an inescapable and growing trend, one that every employer must fully understand when it comes to evaluating tools aimed at improving the employee-benefits experience. What is it? The “consumerization” of health care. 

What is consumerization?

It’s simple, really. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a shift from mass market production to customization and personalization in many sectors. Companies like Amazon, Netflix, and Mint have embraced evolving technology and leveraged it to allow consumers a much greater say in available products and how they make use of them. At a high-level, consumerization is a shift in focus toward the individual consumer and away from serving the market as a whole. 

So, what does consumerization mean for employers?

Employers will need to adapt their approach to benefits in ways that help employees navigate the healthcare landscape more effectively—and more personally. Big data and customization are going to be increasingly important to employees who want to know that the benefits they’re selecting are demonstrably right for them, and not just good in a theoretical or generic way.

Benefits will always play a significant role in workforce satisfaction and retention, but the expectations of employees are evolving, and employers who don’t find ways to provide better guidance, support, and education may find themselves struggling to maintain the number of employees they need to thrive. 

What HR teams need to know

  • It’s a jungle out there. No, really. While income has stagnated or even decreased over the past two years, healthcare costs have continued to rise. Employee premiums and out-of-pocket costs for doctor visits and prescription drugs represent a larger portion of household budgets than ever. This means that employer health plans don’t always mean lower health-care costs. 


  • In fact, 58% of employees would not be able to cover an unexpected out-of-pocket medical cost of $1,000 or more. And that produces burgeoning debt. In April, 2021, 21 million Americans faced immediate collections for medical debt totaling $46 billion, an unprecedented burden of healthcare debt. 


  • Employees spend relatively little time—an average of 18 minutes—considering their benefit selections. For most, open enrollment is a period of frustration and confusion that leaves them with little confidence about the choices they make and even less about of how to effectively use what they have selected. Most default to whatever they selected the previous year, even if their circumstances have changed in ways that could be better served by a different choice. 


  • Another shift brought about by the move toward data-driven customization is the increased willingness of employees to share personal information if they believe that doing so will benefit them in tangible ways. Close to 80% of consumers are “somewhat” or “very willing” to share their data in return for lower prices, personalized offers and alerts, and quicker claims processing. 

Questions employers should be asking

To translate the value of the benefits you offer to your employees, it’s helpful to ask a few rather direct questions.

  • Are your employees sufficiently insured in what they need to be?
  • Are you (or why are you) allowing your employees to enroll in healthcare plans they really can’t afford?
  • Are your employees paying deductibles that are higher than what they can afford?

Nayya can help

So, what’s an HR Team to do as more and more employees want a more personalized experience of benefits selection and support?  Ask us. Let us show you how 3 billion data points and 200 million claims can help guide your employees to benefits that make a difference.

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