According to a report by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans, just 19 percent of employers say their employees had a “high level of understanding of their benefits.” The report cites three main reasons for this:
- Employees don’t open or read the materials.
- Employees don’t understand the materials.
- Employees don’t see the value in their benefits.
The good news is that you can help improve this dismal rate of understanding. Below are three ways to do this for health insurance.
1. Make the information appealing.
As stated, employees demand health insurance from their employers. Therefore, the basic interest is already there. Your challenge lies in expanding on that basic interest. One solution is to present health insurance information in a way that captures employees’ interest.
- Use short chunks of text, rather than long blocks, when writing emails. Short chunks of text are much easier to absorb and retain.
- Drop the legalese. Communicate in simple, plain language that the average person can comprehend.
- Send messages via email or text when announcing open enrollment or health insurance changes.
- Put the information online. The website should be attractive and materials should be easy to retrieve.
2. Let a broker do the explaining.
The average small business cannot afford to maintain an on-site staff of benefits experts — whose job includes educating employees about their health insurance. A more feasible option is bringing in a health insurance broker.
Health insurance brokers spend the bulk of their time finding the most appropriate health insurance policies for their clients. They understand the ins and outs and peaks and valleys of the health insurance industry.
The broker can teach your employees the fundamentals of health insurance, such as how deductibles and copays work as well as the difference between HMOs, PPOs and health savings accounts. They can also help your employees see the full value of their health plan, so they’ll be able to maximize the choices available to them.
3. Don’t overcommunicate.
While excellent communication is central to helping employees truly understand their health benefits, be careful of flooding them with information. You want them to pay attention whenever you have something important to share, so make sure your messages are streamlined and appropriately timed. To accomplish this:
- Avoid sending information that delivers little to no value to the recipient.
- Speak to employees’ logic and emotions. Logic: “Here’s how your health insurance plan will change.” Emotion: “Here’s what you will gain from this change.”
- Know when to ramp up communication and when to scale back. For instance, communicate heavily in the weeks leading up to open enrollment. Outside of that, keep messaging typically less frequent — though it should still be done as needed.
Too much noise and your employees will cease to listen. So aim for balanced communication.