Although employers have made significant investments in healthcare for their employees, there are still “stark disparities” when it comes to access and outcomes, according to a recent report from Morgan Health, a JPMorgan business unit focused on employer-sponsored insurance.
The report relies on 2021 data from three nationally representative surveys: the National Health Interview Survey, the National Study on Drug Use and Health and the National Vital Statistics System.
Its findings include:
- Lower-income individuals with employer-sponsored insurance were less likely to have a usual source of care and more likely to receive care from the emergency department. In addition, lower-income patients also had a higher healthcare cost burden and were less likely to receive preventive care.
- Lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) individuals with insurance through their employer had greater mental health needs, with 18.8% experiencing serious psychological distress compared to 4.1% of straight people. However, LGB individuals were more likely to seek help: 37.6% saw a doctor about their feelings, compared to 23.1% of straight individuals.
- Black, Hispanic and Asian individuals with employer-sponsored insurance had better mental health rates than White individuals, including a lower prevalence of serious psychological distress and depression. However, Asian individuals with depression were four times less likely to get treatment compared to White individuals with depression.
- Black, Hispanic and Asian individuals with employer-sponsored insurance “interacted with their healthcare with varying levels of affordability and notable gaps in preventive care.” Asian individuals had fewer financial barriers to care compared to other races but had mixed levels of preventive care use. Hispanic individuals had a lower financial burden of care but used preventive healthcare less. Black individuals reported more difficulty paying for medical care but had higher rates of preventive care.
- Black and Hispanic mothers with employer-sponsored insurance had much higher rates for cesarean sections compared to other races. When it came to low-risk pregnancies in particular, Black, Hispanic and Asian individuals had higher rates of C-sections than White mothers.
Morgan Health conducted this report because employers are in a position to help close these gaps, according to Dan Mendelson, CEO of Morgan Health.
“Employers have a responsibility to understand the nature of the gaps that exist in the marketplace and to work actively to fix them,” Mendelson said in an interview. “Employers are paying for this care and as a result are in a leveraged position.”
The report also laid out several recommendations for employers, including creating financial incentives for lower-income employees to access preventive care and for LGB individuals to access mental health care. Morgan Health also recommended offering tailored preventive care services for different cultures and populations within their employee base.
In addition, employers can use employee resource groups to engage more employees and connect them to needed care. They should also add doula and midwifery services to their maternal healthcare offerings. Lastly, they can publish quality scores for in-network providers.
“What we’re looking to do is find practical solutions that employers can adopt without spending a huge [amount],” Mendelson said. “Most employers are not in the business of healthcare. They want to run their businesses and they’re working through an insurance company and they either don’t have the time or the expertise to really get deep into this. Most employers also care about racial equity and want to do things that support those goals, so I would say the objective for us is to find practical things that employers can do.”
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