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From Confusion to Clarity: 5 Ways to Optimize Employee Healthcare Benefits

Quick Look: A strong benefits program allows employers to stay competitive and attract and retain today’s leading talent. However, when employees feel confused about what their healthcare entails and aren’t using their plans to the fullest extent, it can become quite costly. Fortunately, brokers are equipped to lead companies through any confusion and provide clarity and solutions to benefit all.

By partnering with the expertise and experience of a professional employer organization (PEO) like ExtensisHR, it provides the time, resources, and insights to make sure a broker’s clients are implementing the right strategies and selecting the right plans.

Every employee values healthcare as a standard part of a competitive compensation package. However, not all employees fully understand the benefits they’re receiving. Between health insurance legalese and misinterpretation about what’s covered (and what’s not), many employees feel dazed and confused about their health plan options and often make poor benefits decisions as a result.

This leads to a lose-lose situation. When an employee overspends on coverage they don’t need, employers pay more, making the incentive start to feel lackluster. To effectively create and communicate an employee healthcare benefits plan, brokers must be ready to address their clients’ ever-changing needs and know how to break them down in ways accessible for everyone.

Here are five tips to creating an optimal benefits communication plan to encourage increased appreciation and use of employee healthcare benefits and highlight the value of what’s being offered.

1. Talk through different health plans

Many times brokers work with small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to create health plans which speak directly to their employees’ needs only to have employees revert to the same health plan they’ve signed up for year after year. People tend to stick with what they know even if a change would do them good. This makes it essential for brokers to walk through specific health plan differences and the associated costs of each.

Since every employee has different health care needs and expectations (which can change throughout the course of their employment) understanding the distinctions of each can help them make more informed decisions. Additionally, if there are any new options to introduce during the enrollment period, it’s best to highlight the changes in the interest of those who may want to switch plans or at least reevaluate their options.

2. Communicate benefits in multiple ways

In-person employee healthcare benefits presentations are the norm. However, with more people working remotely and an increasing need to diversify communication methods, it’s useful to introduce other ways to share information and connect. This includes everything from hosting webinars to sending monthly newsletters to implementing technology where people can check their current benefits plans and receive customized recommendations for care.

Healthcare coverage is personal though it’s commonly communicated as a blanket topic of discussion with limitations on when and how information is delivered. Providing various opportunities to learn and engage encourages employees to invest in the conversation and get the most from their benefits.

3. Engage often, not only at enrollment

The open enrollment period is the obvious time to talk with SMB leaders and their employees about healthcare options. However, this short window may leave employees rushing to make a decision which may not quite fit exactly what they need in the upcoming year. Instead, a helpful idea is to provide ongoing education and resources throughout the year so employees feel better informed when open enrollment rolls around.

Support initiatives like World Mental Health Day or American Heart Month to connect the value of employee healthcare benefits on a personalized scale. Also, offer recommendations during times when employees are already engaged, such as when they’re researching health providers or prescription costs. Advise employers on the healthcare plans which will provide the most value.

4. Implement customization technology

Implementing technology helps to create a more efficient process where employees can self-educate and find personalized healthcare recommendations through interactive software and apps. People tend to tune out when information doesn’t apply to them.

Create customized options which allow employees to receive answers to their specific questions in a confidential, convenient way. Technology also helps employers reach a workforce spread out in different areas. With many organizations operating remotely, making sure every employee receives the same attention as those able to meet in person is important.

5. Breakdown acronyms into laymen’s terms

Take out the guesswork when it comes to healthcare verbiage. Provide a cheat sheet with common acronyms spelled out in layman’s terms to help provide clarity, such as the definitions and differences between HSA and FSA, PPO, and HMO. Though some employees may already be well-versed with this benefits language, it’s always nice to have a reminder and a reference point for those who want greater insight into what these terms mean for them.

Partnering with Expert HR Talent to Maximize Client Value

With the ever-changing landscape of the modern workplace, employers are relying on broker guidance now more than ever. Though the broker role has always called for wearing many hats, it’s best when negotiating healthcare plans is the priority.

However, rather than navigating the complexity of benefits alone, it’s advantageous to work with others who can supplement their services. In addition to helping SMBs find the right health plans to fit their company needs, a PEO broker can expand their value by pooling expert resources to implement and manage all HR responsibilities.

The ExtensisHR PEO solution provides brokers and their clients tailored services for HR guidance, employee benefits, payroll, risk management, and more, to fit their individual needs and goals. It creates greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness allowing SMBs to focus on growing their businesses and brokers to maintain strong client relationships. Through joint support, companies can optimize employee healthcare benefits and provide the clarity so many seek.

To learn more about how our PEO solution can help your clients reach their goals, contact ExtensisHR today. Our HR experts are here to help.

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