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November 4, 2022

Helping Employees Navigate Their Health Benefits

By David Zanze, Executive Vice President of Western Growers Assurance Trust

Health insurance is one of the most important investments we make, but for many it has also proven to be one of the most complicated. According to the 2022 Health Insurance Knowledge Snapshot commissioned by Justworks and conducted by Harris Poll, many employed adults find that they’re lacking in knowledge when it comes to their health care benefits. So how can we expect employees to make these important decisions when they don’t understand the full scope of their benefits?

According to the survey:

•   More than half of participants feel they aren’t getting the most out of the health insurance options available to them

•   More than half don’t understand the full scope of what their current health insurance offers

•   Nearly 70 percent of younger adults aged 18-34 are more likely to incorrectly answer basic facts about health insurance—specifically the definitions of a deductible, coinsurance and copayments

When consumers lack an understanding of their health benefits, they miss opportunities to reduce health care expenses and increase savings. Employers who provide proper resources and training opportunities empower their employees to make informed decisions so they can stay healthier, avoid unnecessary trips to the emergency room and better manage their chronic conditions. As employers, it’s imperative to ensure your workforce is fully aware of the benefits available to them.

Since we’re in the midst of open enrollment, we’ve provided some tips for employers on how they can help their workforce better understand and make the most of their health plans:

 

Connect and engage with your employees.

Open enrollment is a great opportunity each year to provide your employees with additional information about the company and solicit feedback. This is a good time to include information in employee packets about how they can provide suggestions regarding their benefits, the organization and available resources. Improved communication and engagement with employees can lead to enhanced productivity, satisfaction and retention.

 

Show employees the value of their benefits.

You may want to consider including a breakdown of what benefits really cost you as an employer when compared to the smaller percentage paid by employees. You can demonstrate what your employees get in health care, 401(k) matching funds, time-off pay, and other benefits your company provides. When employees see the value of their benefits, it can help them appreciate what your company is offering.

 

Provide benefits information as it applies to an employee’s life stages.

When it comes to health benefits, there is no such thing as one size fits all. Provide some information and give examples of what types of benefits might work best for different stages of your employees’ lives. For example, you can compare benefit plans for young singles, couples with no children, couples with children, and employees nearing retirement.

 

Offer continued support.

Health insurance isn’t just a discussion that should take place once a year. Benefits information should be shared, updated and distributed year-round, and not just before open enrollment or during the on-boarding process. These reminders can be simple. For example, when flu season rolls around, you can send out a communication that reminds employees of the importance of getting their flu shot. That reminder can include available locations on where they can get their shots and how they can stay healthy during flu season.

As part of WGAT’s commitment to members, we build relationships and establish trust with our plan participants, providing on-site support and health benefits education. All WGAT plan participants have access to our bilingual team of client service representatives. The role of our representatives is to elevate and empower plan participants and assist them with any questions they may have regarding open enrollment, explanation of benefits, claims, and more. We also make onsite educational visits to promote healthy behaviors and help lower the risk of chronic diseases and other health conditions. If you’re interested in a WGAT plan, contact Western Growers Insurance Services for more information at (800) 333-4WGA.

 

In addition to serving as executive vice president of Western Growers Assurance Trust, David Zanze is the president of Pinnacle Claims Management, Inc.