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Encouraging Health Benefits Literacy Among Your Employees

Using health insurance is complicated! Each plan has its own rules about which doctors are in-network, which services are covered and in what amount, and what the co-pay and deductible will be.

There is also a lot of healthcare jargon participants must be familiar with to fully understand their benefits—terms like HSA, primary care, in-network provider, co-insurance, deductible, and reimbursements are complex industry concepts your employees may not be familiar with.

Encouraging insurance and health benefits literacy among all of your employees will help set them up to receive the maximum value from their health benefits, ultimately leading to reduced healthcare costs for your company.

Unfortunately, understanding healthcare coverage is rarely straightforward. Many individuals need help making sense of their options both during open enrollment and when receiving health services. In fact, according to a recent Quantum Health study, eight out of 10 people said they faced challenges when receiving care.

The study also noted that these challenges were worsened by benefits complexity. In other words, confusion about health benefits can negatively impact your employees’ ability to access appropriate care.

Confusion Over Benefits Negatively Impacts Employees’ Healthcare Experience

According to the study cited above, the vast majority of consumers have reported encountering challenges in the past two years when receiving care. These roadblocks include issues understanding coverage levels, locating providers, and navigating the insurance claims process.

Issues like these were intensified for individuals with chronic conditions—90% of whom said they faced additional hurdles, such as understanding diagnoses or test results.

Other main findings from the study include:

  • Over half (57%) of consumers who reported experiencing healthcare challenges said they

suffered negative impacts from such challenges, including declined physical and mental well-being.

  • The majority (60%) of all respondents said they spent work time dealing with healthcare challenges, averaging 30 minutes per issue.
  • Fewer than half (45%) of respondents said it’s easy to use their health benefits.
  • Only 35% of respondents said it’s easy to navigate the healthcare system.

These findings point to a critical need for greater healthcare literacy and benefits education among employee populations.

Action Items for Employers: Encouraging Health Benefits Literacy

Business owners devote a lot of time and energy tailoring their health benefits to ensure they meet the needs of their employees. But, if not all of your employees can effectively use these benefits—let alone understand them—employers should consider refocusing their communication efforts.

Consider developing simple, step-by-step guides to help employees effectively use their health benefits. Include a brief description of common industry terms and an easy-to-understand explanation of benefits for each plan. Include carrier and/or broker contact information so your employees know who to reach out to if they have questions about their benefits. Make sure these guides are available in both English and Spanish.

As the study points out, it’s simply not enough to provide world-class benefits; employers must also ensure employees can leverage that value by educating their workforces. Doing any less can lead to declined employee well-being, productivity, and morale.

Reach out to SWBC’s Employee Benefits Consulting Group to discuss a benefits communication plan and secure health benefits literacy resources for your employees.

Learn how to boost employee engagement while minimizing healthcare costs for your organization.

Related Categories

Employee Health & Wellness

Taylor Cunningham

Taylor Cunningham is an Employee Benefits Consultant who provides clients with expert advice about the healthcare marketplace. She designs and implements benefits solutions to help her clients achieve their business goals. She welcomes any opportunity to discuss employee benefits strategies and improve a company's bottom-line.

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