Employees' lack of healthinsurance understanding is causing many to skip out on care–costingthem and their employers. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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Consider the cost: Lost productivity rings up to as much as $225.8billion annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control andPrevention. That's a lot of cost for employers, but if they don'tget more involved in their employees' health, those workers will becomeeven more disenchanted with their bosses on thesubject than they already are.

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So says a new study from Maestro Health, “What Employees Are Thinking About Healthcare—Andwhy their employer needs to step it up,” which reports amongother findings the news that 62 percent of employees feel theiremployer does not serve as a resource for their health care-relatedquestions.

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Related: Employers not confident in employees' health planunderstanding

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Employers may think they're doing a lot, but that's not howemployees see it; 44 percent of employees say their employerdoesn't offer opportunities beyond health benefits for employees tomeet their health goals. And despite whatever educational effortsemployers make regarding employee benefits, 35 percent of employeeseither only somewhat understand, don't understand or know nothingabout their health care coverage.

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In addition, 33 percent of respondents don't understand theirmedical bills—which can be pretty scary, giventhe way the cost of care keeps escalating.

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“In the U.S., we spend more than $10,000 per person per year onhealth care, which adds up to more than $3.5 trillion. This isdouble what most other countries spend, yet regrettably, ouraverage life expectancy is the shortest,” says Maestro Health CEORob Butler.

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Butler adds, “The market is at a tipping point. Understandingwhat people need and want when it comes to health care andbenefits—and arming consumers with the tools to enhance theirliteracy—will help us improve consumers' individual health outcomesand reverse those life expectancy statistics.”

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And about those health care costs: 68 percent of respondents saythat the cost of health care has increased in the past three years.As employees try to contain those costs, 39 percent of respondentshave chosen not to go to the doctor just in the pastyear.

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Employees aren't the only ones getting hosed on medicalexpenses, the report points out; health care is costing employersplenty, too. Figures from the CDC indicate that productivity lossesfrom missed work cost employers $225.8 billion, or $1,685 peremployee, each year.

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If they want to get a handle on the situation, says the report,employers need to become more involved and boost the quality ofhealth benefits.

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“Unique knowledge of an employee base affords employers theopportunity to play a critical role in keeping employees happy andhealthy while, at the same time, improving bottom lines,” saysMaestro Health CHRO Sheryl Simmons.

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Simmons adds, “It is critical for more employers to think abouthow they can further advance their benefits programs to deliverbetter health outcomes at a lower cost for all.”

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