For health insurance, the industry standard for years was to host an open-enrollment meeting once per year, but we’ve seen firsthand that that isn’t enough. Knowledge is the foundation of employees engaging in their healthcare plan, and 20 minutes every 12 months doesn’t provide adequate time for true understanding.
There’s a wide-spread perception that healthcare plans are complicated and difficult to comprehend. But just like multiplication, spelling, or counting to 1000, the right education can create greater understanding around something that seems difficult.
We sat down and chatted with Alaina Van Houdt, one of our account managers, about how employers can help educate their employees on their healthcare benefits. Here are a few of her tips.
Implement a Benefits Marketing Strategy
Accessible information and resources could be the key to engaged, knowledgeable employees. That’s why we provide our clients with a variety of materials to share with their employees regularly throughout the year. Here are a few examples of benefits marketing strategy components that will keep your employees in-the-know about their healthcare plan year-round.
Regular Email Communications
Consistently communicating is crucial to continued employee understanding of their healthcare plan, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. We’ve seen employers send out regular emails from HR to employees sharing links to helpful resources included in their plan, or reminders of specific plan benefits they may not be aware of. Some facilitate this through monthly newsletters to ensure timely communications.
Printable Educational Materials
We also produce printable educational materials about plan benefits. These are great for HR team members to have on-hand to provide when employees come to them with questions. Your HR team can also post them on notice boards, walls, doors, bathroom stalls, and other places in a physical work location. You can also upload them to a shared company portal, if you have one, for easy access any time.
Educational videos are another great resource for increasing employee plan understanding, especially for those who find reading disengaging. Videos provide employees with a quick and easy way to receive a digestible amount of information about any given topic. They could cover how health insurance works, the difference between healthcare plans, or even specific benefits offered through their insurance plan.
Stay Available When Questions Arise
Beyond providing employees with informational tools, we recommend encouraging open communication with plan participants. When an organization only has one annual open-enrollment meeting, there’s a lot of pressure on attendees to already know what questions to ask. It requires a baseline understanding that many employees may not have.
That said, having an open door policy for healthcare plan questions isn’t suitable for everyone. Here are some successful tactics we’ve seen implemented.
Monthly Town Hall Meetings
We’ve seen employers have great success hosting monthly “town hall” meetings that employees can attend. It provides a great opportunity to go over general business happenings, but also is a good time for employees to ask questions and receive answers about their company benefits. These monthly meetings have also proven to be excellent for sharing changes to benefits-related legislation as it applies to employees.
These in-person meetings are also a great way for employees to provide feedback on the benefits they receive through their plan.
We often implement this with our clients after the first quarter of the new plan year. Similar to the open-enrollment meeting, we come in and sit down with any employees who wish to attend. After three months on their new plan, it offers employees the opportunity to ask questions about their plan, how it works, and how to make the most of it.
Navigating through the healthcare work can seem daunting at first, but having someone in your employees’ corners can alleviate substantial stress. From group conversations to one-on-one meetings, providing that extra in-person support after the first quarter can make or break an employee’s experience with their health plan.
Stay Active in Benefits Education
Continuously showing interest in employee understanding of their benefits shows you care about your employees and their wellbeing, beyond simply offering them access to health insurance. It’s a great way to keep them engaged both in their benefits and their work. And by understanding which plan benefits are most impactful for your employees, you can better optimize your offerings to ensure they’re all beneficial to your team.
If you’re curious about what ongoing healthcare plan education could look like for your organization, we’d love to hear from you. We can help you make the most out of your healthcare plan spending.