Social distancing has been crucial in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s also challenged us. How do we do our part by staying apart from one another, yet still remain engaged with each other? The physical conference room (at least temporarily) has been replaced by the virtual meeting.
The same digital transition is taking place for your employees and their employee benefits, with many of our participants leaning more on technology and automation than ever before. And some of these changes could be lasting, as you and your employees might actually prefer them to more traditional employee benefits engagement methods. Here are four ways we’re seeing employees change the way they interact with their employee benefits.
App/online account use
Over 80 percent of Americans own smartphones. And this technology has given rise to participant access to their employee benefits anytime and anywhere. That’s why it’s important to offer a Health Savings Account (HSA), Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and other popular plans from an administrator that offers innovative, easy-to-use technology. All of this takes on more importance during the pandemic, since more people are looking for ways to file claims and request funds easily from their homes.
With so many people in states that have shelter-in-place orders, they’re looking for ways to transact with one another digitally. By setting up direct deposit, your participants can receive fast reimbursement of their claims. And, by having funds deposited directly into their bank account, they’ll reduce the need to make any trips to the bank.
Telehealth (or telemedicine, as it is sometimes called) was already an emerging trend. And it’s gained even more attention in recent months, with legislation drafted to help Americans save when using it. All of this is also intended to provide relief to hospitals and clinics that might be experiencing an increase in patients due to the pandemic. Over three-quarters of hospitals use telehealth to connect with patients, and that number was steadily increasing even before the pandemic.
The CARES Act temporarily allows High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHPs) with an HSA to cover any telehealth or remote-care expenses, even if the participant hasn’t reached his/her deductible. This could lead to more participants becoming comfortable with telehealth and using it more frequently, even when the pandemic is behind us.
Virtual OE fairs
Open enrollment is a critical time on the benefits calendar, as your employees learn more about the benefits available to them. You may be looking for ways to provide this important educational opportunity, while also not hosting a mass gathering of your employees in one physical location. That’s why many employers are turning to virtual open enrollment fairs rather than in-person ones.
Would you like to learn more about how employee benefits have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic? Check out our COVID-19 resources page.
The information in this blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not legal or tax advice. For legal or tax advice, you should consult your own counsel.