5 ways brokers can help demystify health insurance

Confusion and a lack of comprehension have resulted in significant financial losses and wasted time for employees, their families, and their employers
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The adage "there are no stupid questions" is highly relevant when it comes to navigating the intricacies of the American healthcare industry, particularly in relation to health insurance. However, numerous employees encounter significant challenges merely trying to determine where to begin when selecting health insurance that aligns with their needs and those of their families. Understanding how to effectively utilize their benefits to save money for themselves and their companies is an additional hurdle.

According to a 2021 survey conducted by Bend Financial, a staggering 56% of Americans feel utterly bewildered in their attempts to comprehend their health insurance. Moreover, this number rises to 75% among individuals covered under a family member's job-based health plan. The survey revealed several noteworthy insights:

  • When asked about the most confusing aspect of health insurance, 52% of respondents mentioned the difficulty in determining what counts towards their deductible.
  • Almost half of the participants expressed confusion about which procedures are covered or the criteria for in-network versus out-of-network care.
  • Astonishingly, 65% of respondents incorrectly believed that Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) are synonymous.

The situation worsens when employees fear being perceived as foolish or unintelligent for asking questions directly to their human resources department or during employee meetings. This lack of clarity and understanding results in financial losses and wasted time for employees, their families, and their employers.

This predicament presents an opportunity for brokers to become indispensable resources for employers and their workforce, assuming the role of trusted advisors to support overwhelmed HR and benefits leaders. Employers offering health insurance benefits must ensure that their employees possess the necessary knowledge to select and navigate this valuable offering. Below are several strategies that brokers can share with their clients, focusing on two key areas: communication and engagement.

Brokers and employee communication

employee communication about health insurance, which is crucial for employees to comprehend their benefits and make informed decisions. Here are five ways brokers can enhance this communication:

Destigmatize asking questions: Brokers serve as a point of contact for employees, encouraging them to raise concerns and inquiries related to insurance. By simplifying complex concepts and using real-life examples, brokers can help employees feel more comfortable asking informed questions and understanding their options.

Ensure employees know who to contact: Brokers can assist HR leaders by providing online tools and user-friendly portals that make it easier for employees to reach the appropriate customer service representatives at insurance companies. These resources can include educational videos, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and other helpful materials.

Maintain year-round communication: Brokers often have access to updated changes in insurance plans, rules, and regulations before HR professionals and employees do. By providing regular updates, brokers can keep employees well-informed about any modifications in insurance policies or coverage, strengthening their relationship with employers.

Provide consistent documentation: Brokers can support both clients and employees by delivering comprehensive documentation, including text and video materials, on how the insurance plan works, the benefits of preventive health, and health insurance terminology. By using simple language, breaking down complex concepts, and presenting relevant examples, brokers can ensure employees fully understand these crucial aspects.

Offer employee lunch-and-learns: Brokers can organize sessions where they lead or share knowledge with carrier representatives. These sessions can include one-on-one consultations to address individual employee concerns and assist them in choosing the most suitable insurance plans based on their needs and budget. Brokers can leverage interactive communication formats, such as workshops or webinars, to enhance engagement and ensure all employees have access to these valuable sessions.

Brokers and employee engagement

Maintaining employee engagement is a critical component of organizational success. It necessitates continuous nurturing and improvement, activities in which brokers play a pivotal role.

1. Administer year-round surveys to gather feedback on processes, employee sentiments regarding benefits, and more. This approach not only enables organizations and brokers to regularly obtain valuable insights into benefits processes, but also shows employees that their opinions are valued and acknowledged. By collaborating with a suitable benefits administration vendor, brokers can effectively devise and implement surveys that target relevant aspects of health insurance, such as employee satisfaction, work culture, job roles, management style, and more. The data obtained from these surveys provides brokers and employers with invaluable insights to shape and enhance internal strategies, thereby fostering increased employee engagement.

2. Conduct pre-open enrollment surveys to identify areas of confusion. By incorporating feedback from these surveys into their communication strategies, brokers can enhance clarity and boost engagement. With the information gathered, brokers can tailor their communication approach to address areas of confusion effectively. This proactive approach not only resolves misconceptions but also instills trust and confidence in employees regarding the broker's commitment to act in their best interests. By eliminating ambiguities and presenting clear information, brokers not only simplify the enrollment process for employees but also elevate levels of employee engagement, contributing positively to overall workplace satisfaction and productivity.

3. Provide decision support tools during open enrollment. Brokers can play a crucial role in alleviating the often overwhelming and perplexing open enrollment process by partnering with a benefits administration vendor that offers decision support functionality. Decision support tools provide employees with a comprehensive understanding of the different coverage options available, decode complex terms, and explain the advantages and limitations of each plan. These tools empower employees to make informed comparisons, considering their unique needs and preferences. Easily accessible online tools assist employees in identifying cost-saving opportunities by analyzing factors such as premiums, deductibles, and copayments, while also streamlining the decision-making process during open enrollment.

Brokers accomplish multiple outcomes when they provide employers with proven, effective, and readily implementable recommendations and strategies to enhance communication and employee engagement regarding healthcare benefits. They enhance employee comprehension of this valuable company offering, enable employees to become better healthcare consumers, and instill confidence in their decision-making process when selecting their benefits.

The final results encompass increased employee satisfaction with their plans, a sense of empowerment in managing their healthcare, and an enhanced overall employee experience.

Jasper Purvis serves as the Vice President of Business Development for Selerix, a reputable provider of benefits administration solutions for employers and carriers.

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