Employees Don’t Want to Research Health Benefit Options

In spite of reporting their medical copays and other out-of-pocket costs are more than they can afford at times, many employees said they would rather clean their toilets than research their benefits.

Spending more time researching benefits choices and reading the fine print could help employees during the open enrollment period.

According to the 2015 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey, even though the terms of health insurance policies have likely changed, more than half (56%) say they spend less than 30 minutes researching their benefits, and more than one-third (34%) say they spend less than 15 minutes.

Thirty-eight percent of employees surveyed say they would rather clean out their email inbox than research their benefits. Nearly one-quarter (23%) indicate they would rather clean their toilet, and 18% would rather do their taxes.

Most workers (75%) at least somewhat agree that even with their health insurance coverage, their medical copays and other out-of-pocket costs are more than they can afford at times. Still, more than half (53%) are choosing a major medical plan based on factors that may have little to do with the total cost of health care for which they are increasingly responsible.

Thirty percent of survey respondents say monthly premiums are the most important factor when selecting their major medical plan each year, while 23% state they are most concerned with whether their doctors/health providers participate in the plan. Although potentially high costs of coinsurance and deductibles can present significant risk to personal and family finances, only 16% view the percentage of coinsurance they’ll pay for health care services as the most important factor. Just 14% say it’s the amount of the annual deductible.

NEXT: Unhappy with HDHPs

Nearly half (46%) of employees selected a major medical/health insurance plan with a high deductible of $1,000 or more last year, up from 34% who said the same in 2014. And many who chose a high-deductible option were not satisfied with that choice.

More than half (52%) at least somewhat agree that they regret choosing a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), and most (59%) at least somewhat agree that their HDHP was financially detrimental for themselves and/or their family. Forty-eight percent at least somewhat agree that they did not understand how an HDHP really works.

Thirty-nine percent say their health insurance gives them some of the protection they need, but a serious illness or accident would still create a financial burden for them.

"Despite the shift to more consumer-directed health care, U.S. workers are still not moved by the full financial consequences of their health insurance choices during open enrollment," says Matthew Owenby, senior vice president, chief human resources officer at Aflac. "In a perfect world, workers would weigh not only the monthly cost of an insurance plan, but also how much of the total cost of their health care they'll be responsible for to cover any unexpected out-of-pocket costs. In a sense, they are rolling the dice with their financial future."

The 2015 Aflac Open Enrollment Survey was conducted among 2,000 U.S. adults employed either full or part time in June and July 2015. More information is here.