HPS Blog for Brokers

Clear the Confusion About Healthcare Benefits During Open Enrollment

Employees have a lot going on in their lives. When healthcare open enrollment rolls around each year, the complexity and volume of information can require more time than an employee has available, leading to a stressful experience. The process is often complicated and confusing even for experienced employees. And for newer employees, understanding healthcare benefits can be overwhelming.

Employers may be challenged to meet each employee at the level of his or her understanding. If only they had the time and staff to help each employee from their personal perspective. In doing so, they could better engage, communicate and educate.

The confusion is measurable

According to an SHRM poll of 2,043 employees receiving healthcare benefits from their employer, the benefits selection process is described as complicated and mentally taxing.

  • About half of the employees surveyed said making health insurance decisions is always “very stressful” for them.

  • 55% of employees say they would like help from their employer when choosing a health plan.

  • One-third of workers (32%) are only somewhat satisfied with the benefits offered by their current employer, and 20% are not satisfied.

Employees want help

Only 4% of Americans can correctly define basic health insurance terms such as deductible, coinsurance, co-pay and out-of-pocket minimum. According to the 2017 AFLAC Workforces Report, 74% of employees don’t understand some part of their benefits and 67% think reading about their benefits is long, complicated or stressful. Additionally, it was found that employees who find their benefits communication to be effective are more than twice as likely to say they are very loyal to their employer.

Clearly, employees need help navigating the challenging healthcare enrollment process. Managers should consider holding information sessions to educate. Block out time for employees to study their benefits materials, followed by question and answer sessions to help clear any confusion. In addition, avoid jargon in materials. Break down unfamiliar and complex health insurance terms into straightforward concepts. Use plain English as much as possible so employees can understand exactly what they're paying for and the specific benefits they are receiving. Finally, technology such as healthcare portals, webinars, and mobile apps make the process more accessible and convenient.

Lower your employees’ stress level

Seek out resources that aim to mitigate healthcare confusion. Assist employees in the open enrollment process and ensure they understand their benefits package. Employees will be grateful for the increased ease of use and HR will reduce their time spent handling healthcare questions.