What role do employers play in reaching consumers?

Communications and incentives are just a small sample.

As buyers of health care insurance, employers are a critical link between many consumers and insurers. As such, they have an incredible opportunity to make an impact on the health of individuals and whole communities. 
Once an employer decides to take on a larger role in the health care system and to advocate on behalf of itself and its employees, the employer is in a good position to reach out to employees to help them and their families lead healthier lives and become better consumers of health care. To achieve this, employers need to communicate effectively with employees and align incentives to encourage healthy behavior. 
This six-question self-assessment can help employers figure out where to start in communicating about health issues with employees.
The Memphis Alliance encourages businesses to view employees as full partners in improving health and the health care system. For instance, FedEx offers incentives in the form of cash rewards to employees for engaging in certain healthy behaviors. Other examples of wellness programs include those that target weight control, physical fitness, smoking cessation, and stress management.
Another area affecting employees is health plan benefit design. Employers can ensure that benefit design includes discounts for preferred networks based on high-quality care, generic drug use, mail-order drugs, and other proven money savers. Another Memphis-area employer designed a self-insured health plan for the specific needs of its rural employees. Since preventive care saves money and preserves health later, the plan offers a $0 co-pay for preventive services. The employer also developed educational materials on how to access health care and use appropriate services at the appropriate time. 
To encourage consumers to use quality ratings, a Maine state employee health plan offered a $100 co-pay waiver to employees or family members who went to hospitals with higher quality ratings. 
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