Employees Confused and Stressed About Selecting Health Benefits

More than half of employees working for companies offering health insurance say they would prefer assistance from their employers when choosing their health plans, according to a new report.

By Javier Simon | September 16, 2016
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Nearly half (49%) of employees eligible for employer-sponsored benefits say making health insurance decisions is “always stressful,” according to a survey conducted by Harris Poll and published in a new report by technology firm Jellyvision.  

The research found that 41% of employees find their companies’ open-enrollment process “very confusing,” and only 34% say they pay attention to all the material provided to them about their benefits. And while 52% of employees found their companies’ benefits communications “informative,” researchers note that “others use more critical language, calling their benefits communication complex (18%), disappointing (15%), boring (10%), or a waste (7%).”

Ineffective communication strategies can mean that some employees are misinformed about key aspects of their benefits options potentially hindering them from making the best decisions. The survey found that 20% of employees regret the benefits choices they make.  

“One of the most important things we learned from this data," says Jellyvision CEO Amanda Lannert "is employees aren’t getting enough from their current benefits communication to be fully empowered to make smart decisions. For instance, 68% of employees whose company offers a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) say the HDHP feels more expensive than other options. That kind of thinking misses the point, and it’s helpful to no one.”

The research also found that only about half of employees know their out-of-pocket maximums (53%) or their employers’ contributions to the costs of health insurance (47%). This is important to note considering research that indicates health care costs for employers is rising.

“These numbers represent a huge opportunity for employers,” adds Lannert. “First, the focus on deductible totals versus the total health plan cost may have many employees either making the wrong health-plan decision for their situations or making the right decision while thinking it’s the wrong one. If employers can better communicate that, they’ll have a happier - and healthier - workforce.”          

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