How Physicians Can Help Improve Financial Wellness for Practice Team Members

MARCH 13, 2019
Michelle Clark
Physician, heal thyself? That may be a tall order when it’s your financial health at issue.

Financial wellness is as big a concern for members of the medical community as it is for anyone else. Whether you’re a 50s-something who is pressured with the costs of managing a practice, the care of aging parents and kids, paying a mortgage and wondering about retirement, or just going into practice with a degree in hand and a staggering amount of student loan debt, the cost can be high and the cure elusive.

Student loan debt alone is a troublesome burden for some 70 percent of all graduates, now at $1.53 trillion and growing. But those among today’s medical school graduates, are among the 86 percent who carry educational debt. Medical School debt reached $196,520 in 2018 from $190,694 in 2017, the Association of American Medical Colleges data shows, making it likely to take one at least 10 years to pay it off, if you can afford the estimated $2,200 monthly payments.How Physicians Can Help Improve Financial Wellness for Practice Team Members

You can heal the financial health of both yourself and your employees with a holistic approach to your benefits program and making financial fitness a cornerstone of everyone’s overall well-being. Here’s some ways you can think about it:
Physician, heal thyself? That may be a tall order when it’s your financial health at issue.

Financial wellness is as big a concern for members of the medical community as it is for anyone else. Whether you’re a 50s-something who is pressured with the costs of managing a practice, the care of aging parents and kids, paying a mortgage and wondering about retirement, or just going into practice with a degree in hand and a staggering amount of student loan debt, the cost can be high and the cure elusive.

Student loan debt alone is a troublesome burden for some 70 percent of all graduates, now at $1.53 trillion and growing. But those among today’s medical school graduates, are among the 86 percent who carry educational debt. Medical School debt reached $196,520 in 2018 from $190,694 in 2017, the Association of American Medical Colleges data shows, making it likely to take one at least 10 years to pay it off, if you can afford the estimated $2,200 monthly payments.

You can heal the financial health of both yourself and your employees with a holistic approach to your benefits program and making financial fitness a cornerstone of everyone’s overall well-being. Here’s some ways you can think about it:

1.  Tailor your approach.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, as financial pressure points vary substantially by age group. Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials all have different financial stressors as well as preferences on how they prefer to receive assistance to deal with them.
  • A major issue for Boomers is retirement readiness, and resources that most appeal will be online or one-on-one coaching.
  • There’s a reason that GenXers are called the “sandwich” generation, given the cost management issues around their parents and children. They’ll want digital resources to help them manage these expenses, like access to basic money courses online.
  • Millennials need help managing their student loan debt so they can live independently. Digital, and preferably mobile, is their preferred channel, and debt management tools and access to consolidation resources is helpful.

2. Focus on three key fronts.

As broad categories, most people need help getting out of debt, learning how to protect their assets and preparing for retirement. Here’s what might be offered as employer-sponsored or low-cost voluntary benefits or both:
  • Student loan management/repayment programs are especially relevant to medical professionals, and not just Millennials. Sponsor and contribute to their debt payments to gain a significant recruiting and retention advantage.
  • Retirement readiness is relevant to all ages (and Millennials may be more open if they’re more comfortable about their school loans). Consider making income replacement software tools available to plan participants so they see how much they should save given their account balance and age to build a paycheck for life at retirement age.   
  • Employee purchasing programs make big ticket items within reach, avoiding credit card debt, hidden fees and interest charges. Such voluntary benefits cost you nothing, and are administered through payroll deductions.

3.  Measure the impact your program is having.

The fact is that people who are financially stressed tend to be distracted at work and it spills over to affect their physical health. You’ll be able to tell that your program is beneficial by changed attitudes and positive feedback, if nothing else. But business measures like absenteeism rates will also shine a light on its value.

Medical professionals have made a commitment to see to the physical health and well-being of patients. Yet when financial wellness is an issue and one that hits closer to home, they will be well-served by considering different options as remedies.


Related Articles
Michelle Clark is Senior Vice President, Health & Performance for HUB International.  She leads a team focused on helping employees be their healthiest selves to be happy, healthy and productive individuals.

Copyright© MD Magazine 2006-2018 Intellisphere, LLC. All Rights Reserved.