Most Americans – about 72% according to one survey – have some level of confusion about healthcare benefits, and that confusion has very real consequences:
- 57% surveyed said they avoided medical care because they were unsure if an expense was covered.
- 45% mistakenly think they can switch health insurance plans anytime.
- More than half struggle to understand basic concepts like premiums, deductibles, and copays.
Source: ValuePenguin Healthcare Survey.
As many employers prepare for open enrollment season, there is no better time to educate employees about healthcare benefits and the enrollment process.
Open enrollment season is a short period of time, usually two to four weeks, in which employees can opt in or out of a company-sponsored health plan. Most companies hold open enrollment in the fall. If your business is heading into enrollment season, here are three tips that can make the process easier for you and your employees:
- Choose coverage early – Delays in choosing your company’s coverage can have a domino effect that affects your employees’ ability to use their coverage. Plan early. Decide early. Your employees who have ongoing medical needs will appreciate knowing of potential coverage changes well ahead of time.
- Communicate early and often – Change can stress employees, especially if that change involves health benefits. Ease the stress for your entire team by sharing information as soon as possible on benefits options, elections processes, and deadlines. Be sure to highlight any key benefit or legal changes in enrollment materials. Employees need – and deserve – ample time to compare options and ask questions.
- Go paperless – Use electronic open enrollment materials whenever possible. Keeping it paperless typically saves time and eliminates the risk of important documentation getting lost or misplaced.
“Open enrollment can be a hectic undertaking for any business,” said Wes Reohr, vice president of group sales at Capital Blue Cross. “Sometimes the simplest advice, like starting early, is the best. The last thing you want is for employees to start a new year without their member ID cards or other materials because you got a late start choosing your benefits.”
While healthcare is complicated, communicating about healthcare benefits during open enrollment doesn’t have to be.
“Start by setting clear deadlines,” Reohr said. “Providing basic resources, like a glossary of health benefit terms can help.” Hold multiple virtual or in-person benefit meetings, and even consider recording those meetings so employees can view them later if needed, Reohr added.
Capital Blue Cross offers electronic open enrollment resources for groups and brokers, hosts enrollment workshops for employers, and provides hands-on sales support to help make the process easier.
“Open enrollment only happens once a year,” Reohr said, “and it’s important for employers to help employees navigate the complexities of healthcare.”
(For more health and wellness news and information that can benefit your business and employees, visit thinkcapitalbluecross.com.)