How well do your employees understand their health care benefits? It’s a universal challenge for employers. A study performed by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found a gap in employee benefits: communication. 1
5 tips to help employees understand and use their benefits in the new plan year:
1. Reach out to employees in multiple ways, and often.
Many companies only talk about benefits during open enrollment. That’s not enough. With a year-round communication strategy, you can explain complex topics in bite-size pieces. For instance, you can send timely reminders to select a primary care provider or get a flu shot. A mid-year benefits fair can help to check in with employees.
Also consider your workforce and how they communicate throughout the day. An enrollment confirmation email is a good start, but you may also need to mail information to employees’ homes. By communicating in multiple ways – email, onsite meetings, printed collateral, an online portal and mail – you can reach more of your employee population. Whether online, in person or in print, be consistent in your message and steer clear of jargon. Visual aids like maps, graphs and tables can make details easier to understand and remember.
2. Show what’s new.
Benefits can be complicated. Build on what employees already know about their previous benefits and explain what’s different. Be upfront about changes like increased copays or higher deductibles to help prevent cost surprises. It’s also important to explain the “why” behind the changes, especially if your company has adopted a different approach to health benefits.2
3. Give tips on how to use benefits.
You can help employees make the most of their benefits. Share tips on how to:
- Find in-network providers and determine what their share of cost will be
- Use online tools to get cost estimates, compare quality and choose the treatment setting that’s right for them
- Seek non-emergency care at urgent care centers when their doctor’s office is closed
- Save money on prescriptions by requesting preferred generics and using mail order for maintenance medications
4. Demonstrate value.
Helping your employees understand the value of their benefits may increase employee satisfaction and loyalty. To make this “hidden” part of the paycheck more visible, more than half of top-performing employers provide an annual total compensation statement.3 These statements put a dollar figure on the benefits package. The most detailed statements also show how much a medical plan has paid and total employee out-of-pocket costs.
5. Connect them to resources.
Make sure employees know all the ways they can get answers to their benefits questions — by phone, online or even in person.
For example, ConnectiCare members can call the toll-free number on the back of their member ID card or log in to the online member center to find out what’s covered by their plan, view claims, get help finding a doctor and more. They can also visit one of our ConnectiCare centers for in-person help with understanding their benefits.
ConnectiCare can help.
ConnectiCare works hand in hand with employers and their brokers to develop communication strategies that help employees understand and get the most of their plan benefits. Learn more about how ConnectiCare meets the unique needs of employers.
Sources: 1 Benefits Communication Survey Results, International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, February 2016. (Accessed Dec. 4, 2018). 2 Davis, Alison. “How to Avoid Being a Deadly Bore at Work.” Inc. Magazine, April 22, 2015. (Accessed Dec. 3, 2018). 3 PayScale’s 2017 Compensation Best Practices Report.