Studies have found that nine out of 10 employees opt for the same benefits every year and that around a third of workers don’t fully understand the group health plan benefits they are enrolled for. Staying in the same plan after year can be a waste of money if someone is in the wrong plan for them. And not understanding benefits can lead to wasted money as well, as workers often skip necessary appointments, check-ups and treatment regimens for chronic conditions, which in turn puts their health at risk. As coverage has grown in complexity over the past decade, it’s important that you provide the resources for your employees to choose the health plan that is best for them. Here are three tips that will help them get the most out of their benefits.
Don’t skimp on explaining
While some employees’ eyes are bound to gloss over while someone is explaining the various plan options, their networks, their copays, deductibles and more, it pays to take the time to explain them step by step. That means breaking the benefits down to the basics in language anyone can understand. Avoid getting bogged down in health insurance jargon and keep it simple. The simpler the better. Don’t think of it as talking down to your employees, because there’s a good chance some of them are not familiar with how health coverage works. Encourage questions, by telling them there are no stupid questions. Invite employees to speak one-on-one with your benefits point person if they have questions they’d rather ask privately.
Make benefits communications all year long
When the new year starts and open enrollment is in the mirror, most employers don’t reach out to staff until a few weeks before the next year’s enrollment period starts. Plan now for regular benefits communications throughout next year. Send them e-mails and materials during the course of the year that remind them to consider how their current coverage is measuring up to their needs. This is especially important if someone’s health situation changes. They may be looking to make a change during the next open enrollment, and feeding them periodic memos about their coverage can help them educate themselves and prepare. Communications could include explainers about cafeteria plans, health savings accounts, how to use their health benefits wisely, and more.
Know your crew
After open enrollment, run a report looking at what plans your employees are signed up for and see if they are concentrated in certain plans. Many employees when choosing health plans ask their co-workers, which often leads to them choosing a plan that is not optimum for them since there are many factors that may vary, including:
Whether or not they are married.
Whether or not they have children.
Their health situation.
That’s why it’s important to run some analytics on your employees’ health plan choices. We can work with you to make sure that they are in the right plans and identify what might be a better alternative for them. For example, in many cases, the younger and healthier someone is, the best choice may be a high-deductible health plan with lower premiums, tied to an HSA. Older employees and those with health conditions — those who are more likely to use medical services and be on medication — may need a plan with a lower deductible.
It benefits both your employees and you if your employees are in the appropriate plan for their life and health situation. Fortunately, you can ensure that they understand their benefits by understanding their needs and helping them learn about their benefits throughout the year.