Why You Should Engage Employees in Their Health Plan

After years of upheaval and tumult, businesses are putting their employee retention and attraction efforts under the microscope, and rightfully so. While some industries are facing record layoffs, others are struggling to fill enough role vacancies to maintain current operations and sustainably grow. There are many different factors impacting a company’s appeal to employees, and employee benefits are a huge one.

That said, benefits don’t benefit anyone who doesn’t understand what they are, how they work, and how it positively impacts them. We chatted with our COO, Jessica Walters, about the importance of employees staying engaged with their healthcare plan, plus some tips on how to encourage engagement.

What does it mean to be an engaged plan member?

Being engaged with a healthcare plan is similar to being engaged in other areas of life. It requires a knowledge and understanding of the plan and how it works for them. It also involves actively asking questions and, where necessary, being proactive in finding answers. But much of that comes from someone beyond the plan participant themselves: it comes from the leaders of their organization.

Like Jessica said in her interview, “For a plan participant to be highly-engaged in the health plan, we want them to understand their benefits, first and foremost, and that comes from top-down. It comes from the leadership team and making sure that they are positioning the employees to have a good experience with the health plan.”

A real-world example of the benefits of engagement.

Here’s a great story from Jessica that sums up why employees and employers benefit from engagement with the company healthcare plan. One of our clients had a team member that couldn’t afford to pay $400 per month for insulin to manage their Type II diabetes. However, this individual knew that their employer was open and inviting team members to ask questions and seek options within their health plan. As a result, we were able to connect them with a resource—a benefit the company’s plan covered—that provided access to that same insulin at a $5 copay.

By using this resource, the lower cost of healthcare allowed the team member to save significant money that could positively impact their life elsewhere. It also allowed the company to keep their cost of insurance down, which benefits everyone who uses it. For clients that work with us, we’ve seen that providing the right resources can help keep insurance rates the same year-over-year, or even reduce them from one year to the next.

Beyond the financials, Jessica made the point that resources like this encourage employees to keep up with maintenance medication for any health issues. “It’s a win all the way around,” she said, “with the member being more actively engaged in their health care, taking better care of their health. They’re more able to perform their job and come into work, so it helps with retention.”

How to educate your employees on their health plan.

Employees can only use resources they’re aware of, which is why ongoing education is so important for boosting health plan participation. The industry standard of a once-a-year plan overview meeting isn’t enough, and it’s an employer’s responsibility to make sure they’re educating their employees effectively.

“[Employee plan education] requires a lot of employer engagement,” Jessica said. “Numerous meetings throughout the year, making sure they fully understand their benefits so that—when and if they need to use the benefits—they have that information readily available to them.”

A few ways we’ve seen employers implement impactful education measures include:

  • Monthly “town hall” meetings where employees can ask questions,
  • Regular emails to employees sharing resources,
  • Reminder emails about specific plan benefits,
  • Access to printable educational materials about plan benefits,
  • & More.

Engaged employees benefit everyone.

When employees are engaged in their health plan, everyone benefits from their diligence. Employees can pay less for better care, which means company health plans can maintain or improve affordability. A healthier workforce is able to be more present at work, which boosts productivity and improves employee retention. To take it one step further, a reduced need for hiring to accommodate employee turnover reduces hiring costs and efforts, allowing HR teams to focus their efforts in other important areas.

If you’re curious about how you can reduce employee turnover and improve the health of your team while reducing your healthcare costs, let’s chat. We can help you evaluate ways your company can get the best bang for your buck in the healthcare industry.

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