Business owners and human resource managers face a constant tug-of-war in their effort to provide their employees with high-quality insurance coverage while keeping expenses under control. This struggle isn’t news, but it isn’t going to ease anytime soon, either. Companies have numerous competing priorities to address, including:
Human Resource consultant WTW recently completed a survey of U.S. employers and reported that over half of the respondents anticipate their healthcare costs will exceed the budgeted amount this year and expect expenses to rise even more in 2023. In addition, the survey found that half of those responding will offer new programs or switch vendors to control costs and maintain quality. At the same time, 25 percent will increase the employee’s premium share.
The pain isn’t limited to the employer. The Hartford Insurance company conducted its annual Future of Benefits Pulse survey in July and discovered that almost half of U.S. workers are concerned about paying for their benefits because of inflation. Many worry that they will need to cut back, with younger people more likely to scale back their choices due to cost. New technology and multiple plan choices may help workers maximize their healthcare contributions by guiding them to the policies that best fit their circumstances. Still, the options may come with unexpected stress.
When employees have options, they can feel overwhelmed by the task of choosing the plan that best fits their needs, yet employers are doing the right thing for their teams by allowing them to select from several programs. Interestingly, employers may be overestimating their workforce’s comfort level with the healthcare-related decisions they need to make. A Quantum health survey last year found that while 88 percent of employers surveyed believe their employees are confident in understanding and using their healthcare benefits, only 52 percent of the surveyed workers shared that confidence.
First, companies may want to consider benefit bundling—combining medical, dental, and vision insurance for their employees. Benefit bundling can save the employer and the subscriber money and simplify enrollment and claims. One typical package includes medical insurance combined with vision and dental insurance. Other options may add life and disability coverage or accident insurance. An advanced bundle may allow individual workers to choose the components they need.
While some workers stay on top of changes to their benefits throughout the year, many ignore the communications from human resources until open enrollment rolls around. After all, they have work to do, and as noted, insurance is confusing and uncomfortable for people to decipher. When the time comes to make those annual decisions, many will default to the selection they made the previous year, whether that’s best or not. The organization can provide tremendous support for the workers by ensuring that they offer abundant educational material to explain the options and help workers make the appropriate selection. Some large companies used to sponsor in-person benefits fairs, where employees could visit booths sponsored by various vendors, gaining access to information along the way. Those events are either extinct or virtual these days, so companies must find other ways to disseminate the information.
Webinars, online chats, bright brochures, conference calls, and email are among the methods that employers can use to engage workers. In addition, human resources representatives (or senior management in smaller companies) must be available for consultations when employees need to make decisions.
Consultants from WTW recommend that companies provide ample time for employees to absorb their choices and offer tools to help make cost estimates based on alternate scenarios. In addition, if possible, companies should reinforce the advantages of their benefits packages throughout the year rather than only during enrollment periods.
As mentioned, businesses have competing interests when considering benefits. They have to watch the bottom line, but also need and want to support their employees’ needs. In addition, they recognize that the benefits package makes a difference in employee recruiting and retention. One study by insurer Anthem reported that medical, dental, and vision insurance are the top three priorities signaled by workers across the U.S.
Obtaining these policies as a bundle can offer both savings and simplicity for a company. According to Zenefits, the most common bundles are these:
Buying these pieces together may result in a more comprehensive package for the employee and cost savings for the business. However, watch out for these red flags:
Your Taylor Benefits Insurance consultant can help you craft a bundle that includes the components your employees value and maximize your bundle savings.
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