Health Care In The Time of Coronavirus
New Haven Independent, June 5, 2020
By Chris Gilson, CCM Communications Writer
Coronavirus has set off a chain of conversations that municipalities are now having during this public health crisis that extend far beyond the virus itself.
Kate Lavoie, the Public Sector Practice Leader for OneDigital in Connecticut, joined the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities’ and WNHH FM’s “The Municipal Voice,” to speak on how municipalities are looking at health care in the time of coronavirus.
One of those concerns is chronic health conditions going unchecked.
Conditions such as diabetes affect the health of large amounts of people. With coronavirus limiting interaction, Lavoie said that many individuals are missing preventative care appointments to which they would have normally gone.
“All those missed appointments leads to a negative effect on your population health,” she said, “you have folks missing their annual preventative exams, mammograms, and colonoscopies.”
There is a known correlation between a gap in care and overall health that can lead to higher costs for the individual and plans.
But there are also unknowns. Our nation has not seen anything quite like COVID-19 since the Spanish Flu over 100 years ago, and so it left a lot of uncertainty in the response and especially the reopening.
“I would say theres a lot of confusion from municipalities on reopening,” Lavoie said, “because [municipalities] have never really truly been closed.”
Screening tools back to top
Lavoie continues that there were questions around what type of screening tools you need to buy, how many people would be allowed in a building, where to wear masks. Current CDC guidelines suggest that a mask should be worn in public areas, while a mask is not needed in a cubicle or closed office setting.
But even further, she says that there will ultimately need to be clear answers to questions like what kind of retraining programs will people need to complete.
Municipalities are at medium or high risk due to factors like age and industry. Municipal employees overall skew older, but also make up first responders and she said that will affect the overall cost for municipalities.
But like every other part of society, many of those answers are being answered through Zoom meetings between municipalities, employees, and their benefits providers, a nod to the digital options that covid has forced nearly every facet of our society to take.
Programs like tele-medicine and prescription delivery programs will be here to stay.
But there will also be plenty of change. Lavoie suggests municipalities put out Requests for Proposals if they have not, or to look at their process, since there has been a lot of change in the marketplace over the past couple of years.
“It could be something as simple as a multi-line discount,” which she says could end up potentially saving municipalities over the amount of money they were paying for the initial line of coverage.
COVID has made clear that assessing what is right for the health of your employees should be an ongoing concern.
“A key thing is always spreading the message of how critically important it is to get preventive care,” Lavoie said, “so that the overall health of your employees is improving.”