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Help Your Employees Become SMART Consumers of Their Benefits

Help Your Employees Become SMART Consumers of Their Benefits
Posted on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 by Kent Rausch
emergencyAccording to data released by the CDC, in 2015 over 136 million people visited an emergency room while only 12.3 million people were admitted to the hospital after their visit. 


The discussion surrounding ER visits is a hot one these days. Consumers are fed up with the costs, and major health insurance companies are looking for solutions to try and curb the overuse of expensive emergency room services. However, in times of sickness, injury, or panic people don’t necessarily choose the best healthcare option, and some end up at the emergency room with an unnecessarily large, and often unexpected, bill to cover.

This is a complex subject, and as HR pros, it’s helpful to look at the larger issues in order to figure out the best approach for your organization.

Lack of education

One component to poor decision-making is the fact that employees do not have the education or knowledge to become smart consumers of their benefits. Additionally, they may not be completely aware of the financial risks that can occur from healthcare costs based on making the wrong decision, like visiting the ER instead of an urgent care center or potentially their primary care provider. And this is a real problem. According to a study by Harvard University, 78% of the people that filed for bankruptcy had medical insurance yet still couldn’t afford to pay their bills. In 2017, healthcare expenses remained the leading cause of debt that leads to bankruptcy.

Rolling the dice on benefits

Every year millions of employees effectively roll the dice to see if they chose the right benefit options for their individual or family needs. Little to no research goes into election decisions. Our recent data found that employees spend more time surfing Netflix than picking out benefits. One issue is, when enrolling, most individuals look back over the last year and ask themselves if they had any major health or benefit problems with a major financial impact.  If the answer is “No”, then they keep what they have and move on without a second thought despite the fact they could be reelecting a plan that does not align with their current needs. They are simply not asking the right questions to provide them the right benefits.

So, as an employer, how do you help solve this cost drain? One solution is enhanced benefits education and decision support. In other words, offering the right benefits, at the right time.

Use these tips to help your employees become SMART benefits consumers:

  • Start now. Don’t wait for Annual Enrollment to tell employees about their benefits. Drip important information in digestible bites. Then, repeat it. Be sure to use different communication methods, such as email, microsites, and traditional print.
  • Make it easy. Help your employees know their network of providers – whether or not their preferred doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers are in or out of your network of coverage is a major indication of where or how they will choose to get healthcare.
  • Anticipate costs. Make sure your employees know what their deductibles, out-of-pocket costs, and maximums are in an easy-to-read format that allows people to compare their options.
  • Rx – Prescriptions can be a major cost to your employees and can vary widely. Be sure to call this to their attention if they need recurring prescriptions like insulin or asthma medication.
  • Transition – Be sure your employees are asking the right questions when to comes to benefits. Perhaps enrolling in an HSA or FSA and maximizing their contributions is a better option for their lifestyle. There are so many benefit options and blindly choosing one year after year may not be financially wise for employees and it could impact your bottom line.

Being smarter benefits consumers will enable your employees to maximize their personal, physical, and financial well-being, while reducing the stress and anxiety that comes with handling unplanned costs and experiences.

Learn more about how our benefits technology platform, Benefitsolver can help your employees plan ahead and ask the right questions to get the right benefits to support their unique situation.