You provide your employees with benefits like health insurance, and the tools they need to choose the right benefits for their needs. Tools like decision support, video education, and communications which explain their many options. But what happens once your employees have selected their benefits?
For some companies, this is the end of the line. Support for insurance comes from the insurance provider.
But is this really the best course for your employees? Or is there more employers can do? And, just as importantly, should employers do more to help employees use their health insurance and other benefits effectively?
Employees Don’t Trust Their Insurance Company
Consumer trust in health insurers is startlingly low: only about 37% of Americans trust their group insurance providers, according to research from Accenture. With low transparency — which is only now beginning to attract legislation from the government — plus soaring costs, and tales of fraudulent billing, potential patients may be more fearful than excited with their health care options.
It’s unfortunate, but often, when employers hand off their employees to their health insurance providers, they are sending them into unknown territory without a guide they trust.
Employees Don’t Understand Their Insurance
Confusion about health insurance consistently leads to consumers choosing more costly coverage than they need, delaying care, or even avoiding medical care. In one study, TIAA researchers found that half of the subjects opted for heath insurance with higher premiums and lower deductibles, even though nearly all of them would have saved money in lower-coverage, higher-deductible plans.
And 56% of respondents in a survey from Bend Financial reported feeling “completely lost when it comes to understanding health insurance.” The survey also found a majority of respondents didn’t understand their plans, including whether it offered telemedicine and confusion about what counts towards their deductible. Nearly half didn’t understand what procedures were covered or what constituted in/out-of-network care.
In fact, many health care decisions, including what kind of insurance to purchase as well as how to use it, are made with fear as a motivating factor. Surprise medical bills worry American consumers: according to a survey by Families USA, nearly half of Americans have received a surprise medical bill. 69% of those who receive these bills said they had trouble paying them, and another 11% say they couldn’t pay their surprise medical bill at all.
Add it all up, and the best enrollment numbers in the world might not equal the best-covered workforce. From confusion about what’s covered, to over-insuring and under-utilization, to a fear of even using the plan at all, employees need ongoing support to really make good on the benefits your company provides.
Communicating About Health Insurance Goes Beyond Enrollment
With all this health care confusion, one thing becomes clear: getting employees through open enrollment isn’t enough. Adding ongoing communication and support for employees can make a difference in health care costs for your company, health care outcomes for your employees and their families, and enhance your company’s recruitment and retention efforts.
But what does ongoing communication about health care look like? While your HR department is not in the business of explaining the individual implications of every employee’s health care plan, companies exist that offer this exact service, handling the post-enrollment communications which ease employee confusion and allow them to get the most out of their benefits.
Care guidance solutions offer advisement on everything from choosing the right benefits to cost confusion, benefits usage, and claim issues. The right health care guidance organization will advocate for employees, help them resolve claims and billing issues, clarify how costs work, help employees obtain referrals and authorizations, and more.
Providing employees with health care advocates who can offer guidance on their health care can save your company money, help your employees live healthy and productive lives, and reduce turnover — all the things your benefits programs are supposed to be doing, but this time, with the help your employees need to be active participants in their health care journey.
For more information on how your company can boost communication, engagement, and plan usage through employee health care advocacy and care guidance, contact WBD today!