Why Your Employees May Be Unhappy About Health Benefits Plans

You don’t want your workers making the wrong choices for their health plans. Here’s how to help your employees find the right coverage and improve their wellbeing.

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Reduce problems your employees face as they choose health coverage

If you think you hate purchasing and administering health coverages, your employees may agree. One of the single most important purchases people make every year can also be the most frustrating and confusing. Employees overwhelmingly want healthcare coverage through their job, but there are often pain points along the way.

A report from Aflac found 74% of employees revealed that there are at least a few things they don’t understand about their healthcare policies. A majority, 67%, admitted that reading about benefits is long, complicated, or stressful. Six percent of those polled would rather hold a screaming baby.

Some issues with healthcare coverages are outside your control — cost the most significant. Other areas that cause problems and dissatisfaction may be easier to remedy. It begins with looking at some of the most common areas that frustrate workers, and ends with asking your own staff members how you can help them better navigate the right benefits for themselves and their families.

A report from Aflac found 74% of employees revealed that there are at least a few things they don’t understand about their healthcare policies. A majority, 67%, admitted that reading about benefits is long, complicated, or stressful.

Language barrier

Like everything, the devil is in the details. Ror most workers who are not familiar with insurance lingo, insurance terminology can be confusing. To get employees on the right track for the right coverage, they’ll need to speak the language.

Only 9% of workers understand basic terms like health plan premium, coinsurance, deductible, and out-of-pocket maximum, according to Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. The meaning of terms like PCP (primary care physician), in-network/out-of network, and EOB (explanation of benefits) are necessary to make sure employees get the best benefits for their buck.

Financially, they’ll need to know what terms like co-pays, out-of-pocket minimum or maximums, co-insurance, and deductibles mean. The first consideration in choosing benefits is often its financial impact. Employees want to know what it’s going to cost them out of pocket, based on the coverage option they select. A primer in the lingo goes a long way to help make the right choice for coverage and cost.

Provider options

Another stumbling block is often the difference between an HMO and PPO. How often has an employee come to you with a bill that their insurance doesn’t cover because they went to the wrong doctor or didn’t get a referral? This fundamental knowledge is important to understand before they make their choice — not after when it’s too late.

Knowing where you can (and can’t) go for medical attention is critical to making the right election. Finding the right primary care physician for yourself can be challenging, finding a pediatrician for children adds to the confusion. If you have an HMO but you’re out of town, what do you do? If there’s an emergency can you go to the nearest ER? These are concerns almost all employees have. If they don’t have the answers before they enroll, there will be problems after.

What’s covered and what’s not 

Research from MetLife found 20% of workers spend only a few minutes reviewing their benefits options before making their selection.

Too often employees spend only minutes deciding what options to elect when they have more than one choice. Research from MetLife found 20% of workers spend only a few minutes reviewing their benefits options before making their selection. For those who have a choice between PPO and HMO coverages, the wrong election can cause significant problems.

When staffers are unhappy with coverage, the root problem is often they’ve selected the wrong option. Knowing what each plan covers for physical and mental health helps employees make the right choices with their coverage.

High deductibles

Whether you’re purchasing coverage through a private carrier, or through ACA exchanges, there’s an out-of-pocket cost every year that must be satisfied. For many employees, these deductibles mean the choice between getting medical attention or not when they’re ill. Employers who work with staffers to create Medical Spending Accounts (MSA) during open enrollment can help ease the burden.

These accounts allow employees to set aside a small portion of their pay on a weekly basis to offset their:

  • Deductibles
  • Co-pays
  • Out-of-pocket expenses

The best part, they can be “borrowed” against. If you have a doctor bill in January, even though you haven’t put in all the funds for the year, you can use MSA money to cover expenses.

Services to help 

Another study found 40% of employees reporting that their health insurers are lacking key services that would increase their overall satisfaction. They were looking for tools or information to help them better understand coverage and weigh costs, along with incentives they might be eligible for that promote healthy behaviors. For business owners, who often don’t understand the services provided under their health plans either, it can be challenging to keep employees informed on the coverage options and benefits they can receive.

Enrollment pressure

With so much information out there, often in language that’s difficult to understand, the stress of making the choice frequently leads employees to make a quick choice, rather than the right one.

A bad choice of healthcare services can have a year-long impact for workers, but the push to make a decision within weeks of starting a new job or at the end of every year is pressure most employees despise. Too many choices make it impossible to comparison-shop effectively: too few choices make it difficult to know what you’re purchasing. Add deadlines to the mix and employees (and employers) end up dreading enrollment.

Often choices made in the moment become problems for the future. Without an opportunity to take an in-depth look at all the options available against how employees and their families typically use their coverage, it can be easy to make the wrong elections. With so much information out there, often in language that’s difficult to understand, the stress of making the choice frequently leads employees to make a quick choice, rather than the right one. When employees are able to read through plans and coverage at their leisure, and with the help of family members, this pain point can be eliminated.

The cost of providing healthcare benefits to employees equals up to one-third of gross payroll for most businesses. It’s important to make sure staffers are happy with the services provided. Ensuring they understand the language and have the best options for providers and coverages at the best possible price point is important. Services that help you ease the pressure of enrollment and help employees shop for the best coverage can ensure staffers love their healthcare, rather than hate it.

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