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Posted June 26, 2019

Build Employees’ Health Insurance Literacy Today

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WEX approached our latest consumer healthcare research with curiosity about why so many Americans aren’t exploring all of the healthcare benefits options that are available to them—especially those plans that could be better preparing them to manage their healthcare expenses (and associated anxieties) both now and in the future.

What we heard from consumers is that they have insufficient tools to evaluate the new healthcare benefits scenarios that are offered to them throughout the plan year. This makes it difficult for them to know which insurance plans will cost the most and which are best in the long term.

And as we explore in our research paper, consumers’ poor literacy about the healthcare benefits options available, and the rush they feel to make a decision during open enrollment, have also contributed to misconceptions about certain plans—consumer-directed health plans (CDHP) and health savings accounts (HSAs), in particular.

 

As an employer or benefits administrator, you have an enormous opportunity to combat consumer inertia by building health insurance literacy about HSAs and all plan types. There are also a number of ways to relieve some of the stress employees say they feel during open enrollment while also reminding them of the importance of these decisions.

Here are a few ideas about how to ease the healthcare decision-making process and build consumers’ confidence that they’re making the best choice:

  1. Simplify communications. Speak to employees as you would to a friend, and tailor communications and tools, making them more personalized so consumers see themselves in the products and not in stereotypes.
  2. Identify employees’ most common misconceptions about benefits—and be purposeful about correcting them.
  3. Look for ways to create in-person touchpoints with employees, whether with an outreach call after they experience their first medical claim with a new plan or by hosting a brown-bag session where employees can have their questions about their CDHP answered.
  4. Take into consideration how much consumers rely on self-discovered trusted advisers (colleagues, friends and family members) when making decisions about health benefits, and seek ways to promote a community of peers as resources.
  5. Provide consumers with a comprehensive online tool that allows them to change parameters and test different contribution scenarios—and then give them an opportunity to talk their decision through with an expert.
  6. Develop a campaign focused on “starting small.” Acknowledge that the first three years of having a CDHP can leave consumers feeling uneasy and crunched. Set them up for success with better account configuration, by establishing definitions of success and by providing more targeted account funding. Assurances that it’s OK to grow in confidence with CDHPs over time can go a long way, especially if they come with an offer of ongoing practical guidance.

 

For more actionable ways to help change the consumer story, download the “Paying for Healthcare in America: Challenges, Missed Opportunities & What We Can Do” report in full here.

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