Helping Employees Choose the Best Health Care Benefit

As open enrollment season approaches, companies can take key steps to help employees choose the best health care plans while reducing expenses and boosting productivity in light of rising health care costs.

By Javier Simon | September 07, 2016
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Deductibles and premiums linked to employer-sponsored health insurance have been rising at more than seven times the pace of inflation and wages since 2010, according to a joint study by the Kaiser Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust. For 2016, deductibles rose by 50% on average and employees’ shares of overall health care costs have also increased, according to the latest Health Plan Survey released by United Benefit Advisors (UBA).

This trend, which is expected to continue into 2017, underscores the need for employers to highlight the value of their benefits packages in clear and concise ways that boost enrollment. However, several studies suggest that employees are having difficulty understanding the benefits and health insurance options available to them.

According to a 2016 survey commissioned by health care concierge Accolade, more than half of respondents said they have difficulty “Having to coordinate all the different aspects of benefits and health care.” Fifty percent said they have trouble “selecting and understanding benefits.”

Some studies even suggest that consumers choose poorly and that random selection would be as effective or even more effective in some cases, according to the Institute for Healthcare Consumerism (IHCC).  

“I think a lot of employers tend to forget that the American public has pretty low levels of what we like to call health literacy,” explains Kim Buckey, vice president of DirectPath, a health care consultant for large employers. “What that means is that many people don’t understand basic concepts like deductibles, copay, and coinsurance.”

NEXT: Educating Employees