Businessolver Blog

Choice Alone is Not the Key to Consumerism

Choice Alone is Not the Key to Consumerism
Posted on Thursday, June 26, 2014 by Businessolver Team

Private exchanges are being hailed as the ultimate solution for consumerism. After all, a high number of plan choices translates into a greater likelihood that employees have access to a plan that is exactly right for them…right?

Not exactly.

In theory, giving employees more plan choices may mean they have a greater likelihood of finding a plan that more closely matches their needs, but the simple reality is that employees don’t even know what those needs are, let alone how to “shop” for a solution to meet those needs.

Reality of healthcare consumerism:

  • 40% of employees don’t understand their current benefits options
  • 56% of employees estimate they waste $750 annually due to a lack of understanding of benefits
  • 16% of employees feel confident they made the right benefits election

The challenge is not in providing more options or offering the right options, the challenge is helping employees understand the right options for them. In other words, the challenge is engagement.


Employees simply don’t know how to shop for benefits. Nor do they want to. Employees only spend 19 minutes in a benefits enrollment platform making elections. If they don’t know how to engage with their limited benefit offerings, asking them to select from an expanded offering on an exchange will only confuse them further.

Benefits technology partners and employers have a lot of work to do before we simply start “piling on” to the options already provided to employees. Benefits technology providers should help avoid the paradox of choice – not add to it.


The way to engage employees is through a powerful, integrated solution that is specific and individualized to each employee. In the age of digital technology, consumers expect that a technology solution will be specific to their needs – think Amazon, Target and Zappos-level choice support and engagement tactics. Engagement in healthcare will need to mirror that expectation of individualization. It should include:

  • A way to build unique, configurable messaging to engage employees by demographics, plan options, or other
  • Comprehensive, interactive decision support tools to help employees find a solution that meets their needs
  • Individualized outreach and communication tools based on preference for communication
  • A way to identify the cost of services in the area to price compare options
  • Mobile-friendly support
  • A reliable human resource available to support consumer questions

By helping employees engage in their benefits, they will be more aware of their needs. Only by understanding their benefits needs will employees be able to make informed decisions from an expanded offering that an exchange offers.

THE ONE THING: More options don’t equal more consumerism; more engagement equals more consumerism.