Home Health The Power of Health Equity and How to Attain It – Rolling Stone

The Power of Health Equity and How to Attain It – Rolling Stone

The Power of Health Equity and How to Attain It – Rolling Stone

I often speak about the importance of building for equity, but equity isn’t just about pay or promotional cycles. Equity must be built not only into the foundations of your business but into your vendors and processes. Too often equity is centered on how we hire but not on how our employees exist, how they thrive and how they live outside of our office walls. 

Equity must exist in every corner of your organization. Equity is not divided up like pie; there is space for all of us. The demand for equity is not at the expense of others.

Equity is more than pay — our survival is dependent on it.

Your diversity, equity and inclusion journey doesn’t stop with being able to hire and retain people. Your efforts and strategy must extend past your ability to recruit; it must live within every thread of your organization — including your benefits. Too often we tout our benefits in our job descriptions, our offer letters and our career sites, but do we ever explain what those benefits mean? Do we explain why our benefits are benefits, or are we focused on the perception that we give others by having our benefits? 

Diversity, equity and inclusion work must be intentional, and we must be intentional around our processes, policies and benefits. It is not just about getting diverse people a seat at the table but providing them with the tools they need to survive — the tools they need to understand our policies, processes and benefits. 

In 2021, Forbes ran a study about how confident people felt navigating health insurance, and 56 percent of people felt “completely lost.” Another 61 percent of people incorrectly defined what a health insurance premium was. We have not appropriately educated people on the ins and outs of health insurance, and the landscape is far from equitable. 

You may be asking yourself, “Why does this matter?” This matters because in order to achieve equity, we must zoom out and examine how all of our systems impact our people. Historically and presently, ignored communities are the ones who are more impacted by the gaps in healthcare and insurance. A McKinsey report found that Black, Hispanic and Latino, Asian, and LGBTQ+ employees — even those with high salaries — are less likely to receive the care they need. It also said that historically ignored employees will be more likely to switch employers for better benefits options.

Is healthcare really a benefit if your population avoids using it? Is it really a benefit if it causes more stress than health? 

These misunderstandings and lapses in health insurance literacy are costly. They not only cost our people and our organizations money, but they also cost people their health. According to a whitepaper study by Healthee, 73 percent of employees do not fully understand how to navigate their health benefits. People also reported putting off filling necessary prescriptions in fear of the financial burden and consequences.

If we want to champion equity and inclusion within our organizations, we need to be willing to take a more holistic approach. We cannot just focus on the ways we hire and promote. We must take a vested interest in the health of our employees.

According to the CDC, “Health equity is achieved when everyone has an opportunity to ‘attain his or her full health potential’ and no one is ‘disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances.’” 

The Rolling Stone Culture Council is an invitation-only community for Influencers, Innovators and Creatives. Do I qualify?

We are not there yet. 

Access to healthcare is a fundamental right, but so is understanding the system. Too often we give people benefits overviews and read through them as if everyone understands what we’re saying. How often do we consider if we’re answering the questions that matter?

As people leaders, it is our responsibility to not only make healthcare accessible but also easy to navigate. As an executive, I often find myself second-guessing my own coverage and doctor’s appointments. Even the experts sometimes don’t feel like experts. 

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, employers were paying an average premium of $7,188 for individual coverage and $20,576 for family coverage in 2019. Benefits are expensive, a valuable part of the packages we offer new candidates and invaluable tools in the pockets of our recruiters. If we’re paying so much for these benefits, shouldn’t we understand the exact offerings that we are promising our candidates?

Being good to people isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good for business.

In a world where candidate experience is vital, and the Great Resignation happens around us, we do not have room for mistakes in our package offerings. Our ability to offer equitable, transparent and human experiences that keep people healthy is the only thing that will set us apart. At the end of the day, people do not care about our happy hours, endless hummus or office perks — they care about how we empower them to live better, how we empower them to take control of their health and their futures. 

As people leaders, I know how the phrase “benefits enrollment” can make us want to run for the hills, but it is a crucial piece of equity. Having healthcare doesn’t necessarily mean having access to healthcare, and this fuels unequal health outcomes.  

Equity needs to look like access.

We need to empower our people to take full advantage of their health benefits and take control of their health. So how can we do that?

• Invest in tools and resources to educate and empower your people to make the best decisions for themselves.

• Create benefits programs that encompass everyone, not just the dominant identities.

• Be intentional with your benefits, and know that doing the right thing will often cost more money.

• Identify the missteps and the harm that has been done by your current benefit offerings and acknowledge them out loud.

• Know that benefits are only a benefit if people can actually use them.

Tap into the power of health equity and set your team up for success when it comes to benefits.