Helping Your First Responder Team Find the Right Healthcare
Date:Friday November 3, 2023
First responders on your team likely see healthcare emergencies frequently, often personally attending to those medical needs themselves. You’d think that this work would impress upon team members the importance of preventative healthcare and regular visits with a primary care provider, but that isn’t always the case.
Navigating the insurance plans, finding a provider who understands a first responder’s mentality, and making the time to take full advantage of available care can all be a struggle with a demanding role like a first responder position. As a leadership staff member, you have a role to play in keeping your team healthy and working to promote a culture of wellness.
Work on Making First Steps Easy
Whoever at your agency interfaces with your employer-sponsored healthcare company can put together resources that help team members know about just one thing that they can do for their health. By “just one thing,” we mean not overwhelming your team with a laundry list of ways they should improve their health. This could mean “search for a primary care provider on the insurance website,” or “call the hotline where you can find a specialist you really need to see.”
Once they’re onboard with taking the first steps, discuss with your team the level of wellness they need to be considered fit for duty, and talk about how important it is to find a healthcare provider who can perform first-responder-focused evaluation and care.
Periodically mentioning the first steps without forcing the issue on using every single part of the insurance plan can be a great entrypoint to accessing more of what your agency works so hard to provide for first responders.
Periodically Hold Sessions Addressing the Best Perks in the Insurance Plans
While ‘just one thing’ reminders are great, there are also contexts where the whole picture of the insurance plan matters. When your insurance representative can visit or host a virtual session, create opportunities for dialogue, Q&A, and explanations of what your plan covers. Discuss the kinds of perks that first responders might specifically benefit from accessing, and describe clearly how to do so. Letting first responders ask questions can also give your leadership team insight into what they most want out of their insurance and healthcare providers.
Where Possible, Connect Team Members With Providers Who Have a First-Responder-Attentive Model of Care
Finding in-network or insurance-accepting healthcare providers in your area may be a challenge, but specifically finding providers who work well with first responders can be an even bigger hurdle. When you find out that a particular healthcare provider offers good experiences to first responders in your agency, or who has experience working as a first responder and therefore could empathize better with first responder concerns, having team members voluntarily share positive experiences with healthcare providers could be helpful.
Obviously, the goal isn’t to limit your team’s options or make their choices for them, but rather to give them space to share what they’ve learned about the local healthcare provider landscape.
This resource on employee education offers good strategies for helping your team to take advantage of the healthcare provisions they have in their benefits packages.
An example of a collaboration to keep a particular population of first responders healthy, this resource highlights that working with other components of our healthcare system in your community can increase the health and wellness of your team.
This SAMHSA presentation is a great example of a clear resource that showcases all that an insurance plan can do and how to get started getting affordable healthcare.