American Airlines sees engagement soar with new benefits tech
Like many employers, American Airlines had a problem with its benefits engagement. Though the airline, with 130,000 employees, has a number of services and employee benefit offerings, workers had a hard time navigating them or knowing which way to turn for specific needs.
“Our team members were struggling a lot when they needed help and struggling with the complexities of healthcare,” said Adrienne Schneider, director of benefits for American. “They weren’t always getting to the right healthcare provider—[one that was] high quality but low cost. They also are generally on the go.”
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Those challenges were compounded by the fact that in the last five years, the airline ramped up hiring, increasing the number of employees who needed help with their benefits.
“We [as benefits managers] think if we give people a lot of programs, they’ll know what to do. But [employees are] looking for ‘just in time’ health,” Schneider said this week, speaking at the National Business Group on Health’s Workforce Strategy conference in San Diego.
“We knew they wanted a point of contact to get the care but also help them understand the offerings that were available to them,” he said. “It was really important that our employees know we care about them on their life journey and on their health journey.”
Enter Accolade, a personalized health and benefits solution that combines different technologies to help employees navigate their health benefits. Its other employer clients include Comcast, Lowe’s and AmeriGas.
“Data shows 24% of employees understand their benefits, but I think that’s a generous number. Benefits teams are left doing a lot of cleanup,” said Matt Eurey, senior vice president of customer and health plan partnerships at Accolade. “I think there’s an expectation. Individuals want a simplistic experience. Healthcare has not lived up to a very seamless, simple experience.”
American Airlines turned to Accolade last year and launched the service to employees in January. The result? Big engagement, satisfaction and utilization.
So far, nearly 58,000 unique members have been assisted and 46% of families at American Airlines engage with Accolade. That number is even higher for high-cost families—defined as those who have a $50,000 spend in medical and prescription combined in a given plan year. Of those, American is seeing 91% engagement.
“That speaks volumes,” Schneider said. “We are super-excited about the high engagement. If they are increasing by June to these levels, you can only imagine what they will be the end of this year.”
Eurey said he expects engagement levels to climb to about 60% after a full year.
Meanwhile, American Airlines’ employee satisfaction with Accolade is at 94%. The partnership has also increased American’s wellness program utilization: The number of employees using the company’s telehealth services, for example, has increased 22% since Accolade launched, and second-opinion services have increased by 58%.
Perhaps the biggest success has been Accolade’s personal health assistants, which support members with questions related to benefits, eligibility, claims or billing. The interactions are intended to gain insight about a member’s needs and barriers to care—a critical part of reducing claims costs.