Since 2010 the total cost of U.S. employer healthcare has increased 28 percent1. On top of the skyrocketing costs, most organizations now employ as many as five generations with differing communication styles, digital skills and healthcare habits. It’s easy to see why organizations find it challenging to build and maintain a healthy and productive workforce that can deliver strong business results.
Cultivating a healthy and productive workforce starts with building the right benefits coverage for each employee’s unique needs. One solution gaining popularity is the private health exchange, which offers multiple carriers, plans and cost-sharing strategies. This approach enables employees to pick the coverage that works best for them. It also allows employers to reduce unnecessary coverage and streamline their enrollment process through a single platform.
Employees Like to Choose, But Need Guidance
Benefits can be complex, whether selecting coverage for the first time or adapting to life changes, such as marriage or a new baby. Human resource departments continue to spend a substantial amount of time configuring their benefits strategies, but employees remain confused about the choices. Only 40 percent know where to go to find out the cost of a health service2.
Millennials and baby boomers view their benefits differently. Younger employees tend to select higher deductible coverage, which comes with a lower priced premium but the potential for higher out-of-pocket costs. Older generations tend to select more comprehensive plans, which tend to carry more expensive premiums.
But when you look across all generations, they each desire transparency—or a clear understanding of health benefits and the implications of healthcare decisions. In a recent private health exchange survey, 82 percent of respondents noted they were confident that they selected the right coverage and 91 percent both liked the ability to select their own carrier and found the health plan comparison tool to be a helpful resource3.
It’s important now for employers to simplify carrier messaging, as well as the benefit coverage navigation process. To reduce employee confusion and promote individual choice, employers should continue to invest in decision support tools or some form of ‘hightouch’ concierge service to educate and guide each employee to the right coverage.
Multi-channel Enrollment Experience is Vital
Not only is it important to make things easier for every employee to understand, but changing demographics reveal that more employees want communications available online. Sixty percent of millennials and 49 percent of those in other generations seek an online view of their health information and usage2. When it comes to finding guidance on health decisions, younger generations rely more on the Internet or their family and friends. Seventy-five percent of emerging millennials search online and 72 percent ask family and friends for guidance, as compared to only 37 percent and 32 percent of boomers, respectively2.
The use of social media and apps is growing in popularity as a preferred method of communication. Although there are varying levels of interest across the generations, the opt-in rates for in-the-moment information are healthy—72 percent for millennials and 53 percent for boomers. Across all employees, email is still the preferred channel, at 64 percent, but text messaging is climbing and already at 44 percent. The shift toward technology-driven communication reinforces the importance of offering a flexible, multi-channel experience. This allows all employees to access benefits and enroll by calling, going online or using their smartphone.
Empowering Employees Through a Private Health Exchange
Some individuals may prefer a different communication channel when it comes to their benefits, but employees converge in certain areas. They want information and navigation to be clear and simple, the ability to self-manage health and the flexibility to personalize benefits coverage.
Private health exchanges offer a platform that empowers every employee to be an active healthcare consumer through an easy to navigate digital interface. They can shop for coverage, enroll, and contact a call center if they wish to speak to a representative. Employees are also offered decision support tools and advocacy services to help them select the best options. This adaptable approach to benefits coverage provides more control and flexibility through a personalized experience for each employee, ultimately right-sizing benefit coverage that impacts the employer’s bottom line.
For more insight into the topics discussed in this piece, please reach out to your Aon representative or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Health Value Initiative Database, 2017, Aon
2 Consumer Health Mindset Study, 2017, Aon
3 Aon Active Health Exchange Post Enrollment Survey, 2017, Aon