As benefits professionals, you are uniquely literate in a complicated language: healthcare. It’s common knowledge that healthcare benefits are a complicated maze to nearly everyone else, but do professionals tend to assume that their employees know more than they actually do about their healthcare and how to use it?

Some employee advocates would say yes. And when employees make mistakes with their healthcare, the results can be costly for both the employee and the employer.

Healthcare Literacy and Healthcare Mistakes

A recent survey by an industry group found that employees frequently make common, and costly, mistakes with their healthcare when they don’t understand their plans. Issues range from failing to check if a doctor or facility is in-network, to a lack of knowledge about service cost and comparison tools.

One issue standing between employees and good healthcare literacy: healthcare has always been complicated, but it’s only getting more complicated. As the knowledge gap widens year after year for employees, they increasingly turn to friends, relatives, and co-workers for advice – assuming that the information provided by their benefits provider is too dense and confusing to help them navigate their plans. They might even be correct.

Costs of Low Healthcare Literacy

It’s not just costing employees money when they make mistakes with their benefits. It’s costing the entire healthcare plan more to operate. Benefits plans are set up to be cost-effective to operate, so when employees use them incorrectly, racking up fees for visits out of network or choosing an emergency room visit over a primary care physician, expenses go up across the board.

Helping Employees Access Healthcare Information

Chances are, your healthcare benefits come from a variety of providers. Working with different vendors for medical, vision, dental, life and other benefits might be financially advantageous for your employees and your company, but are all of those separate websites confusing?

Absolutely. In a 2018 survey by Health Advocate, 44% of employers shared that multiple vendors meant confusion for their employees, and 40% found this decreased utilization of benefits.

Employers can assist their employees by migrating all of their benefits information to a single platform. Nearly half of survey respondents agreed that integrating benefits access to one platform increased engagement, giving employees better use of the benefits companies have worked hard to assemble for them. A WBD supersite could be the simple answer to your single-platform needs.

Support from Human Experts

Even with all of the online education in the world, there is still no substitute for an actual human to answer questions. In the above-mentioned survey, 80% of employers responded that they saw increased benefits engagement when they offered increased support to employees.

Does your company provide live support or an opportunity for employees to receive personalized, one-on-one assistance with their benefits? One of WBD’s popular options for employers seeking to boost engagement is our call center, with a team of experts available to answer employee questions, guide them through coverage, and provide that “high-touch” service.

Comprehensive Communications for Ongoing Education

Does your team provide a year-round communications program? Or are you concentrating most of your healthcare education on the Open Enrollment period?

Coming up with a comprehensive communication calendar which spans the entire year is one of the most effective and simple ways to educate your employees about their benefits. Start with twelve frequently asked questions about benefits and build a monthly calendar from there. You’ll find there’s no shortage of subjects to share!

You might even find videos are more effective and easy to share than emails and virtual bulletin board postings. WBD provides a comprehensive video service, from off-the-shelf educational videos, to custom designs just for your company.

How can WBD help you increase your employees’ healthcare literacy? Contact us today for details on platforms which make healthcare and other benefits easy to access, understand, and use for both you and your employees.

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