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Confidentiality: An Unexamined Explanation For Underutilized Healthcare

Enacting a raft of healthcare legislation over the last few administrations, the legislature has obviously signaled the importance of protecting confidentiality in connection with our personal health care decisions-- both physical and mental. Notwithstanding apparent good intentions, however, the challenge of protecting confidentiality remains an elusive concern for many managers of law firms, and pretty much every business in the United States.

Underutilization is a persistent problem when it comes to healthcare programs, and it has to be addressed. How best to do that? Respectfully, the fix has nothing to do with adding more bells and whistles: It has to do with something that most people never think about as a challenge to utilization -- confidentiality. Nobody is comfortable knowing that someone else within the firm-- even someone who is legally "sworn to silence"-- knows all the details about their personal physical or mental health. Get real!

Most law firms already offer their professionals an embarrassment of riches in terms of healthcare benefits, but much of all that remains underutilized, or simply unused. In management-parlance, that's a huge waste. It's a real head-scratcher. No matter how important our healthcare and wellbeing may be, managers ultimately have to ask themselves: Why spend money on something that so few are willing to actually use?

If I may be so bold as to add my two cents, I'd suggest that the answer is confidentiality. Or, more accurately, lack thereof. People--even smart people who are paying a lot of money for that something-- won't avail themselves of it, unless they are comfortable that the inference (and information) that flows from the use of that certain something, is maintained in complete confidence by a competent someone outside the firm.

By eliminating the direct involvement of anyone working directly inside a firm and creating the financial means for individuals to deal directly-- and confidentially-- with third-party health care providers outside the firm, the problem of underutilization can be responsibly addressed, and both the individual and the firm (as well as clients) are rewarded.

It ain't rocket science, and there's at least one existing product I'm aware of, that can facilitate the kind of confidential arrangement that I'm envisioning. Caring about health and wellbeing-- and respecting the desire for confidentiality-- can go a long way toward creating the kind of workplace culture that will motivate people to really take care of themselves. And that kind of scenario benefits not only us "little guys" but also, the firm, company or corporation for which we work.

BTW, there's also an added benefit that can result from enabling people to go outside, confidentially-- it'll boost participation in connection with the inside initiatives that wellbeing professionals are already designing and implementing. Healthy is, as healthy does.

Management, please give the idea some further thought-- then do it!


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