Open Enrollment season is upon us, and it’s time to start communicating benefit options to employees. A growing number of employers offer a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA) on their menu of medical plan options, yet employee participation is commonly low. While these types of plans offer numerous advantages, effective communication is key to helping employees overcome the high deductible hurdle and remove the mysticism around these types of plans.
We’ve uncovered the top mistakes to avoid when communicating about HDHPs and HSAs.
1. Assuming Prior Knowledge
One of the most common mistakes is assuming that employees already understand the ins and outs of HDHPs and HSAs. These concepts can be complex, and employees may not be familiar with how they work. Ensure your communication materials start with the basics and gradually delve into more complex information.
2. Neglecting Plain Speak
When discussing HDHPs and HSAs, steer clear of jargon-heavy language or overly technical terms. Break down the details of the plans, such as deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, and coverage specifics, using simple and accessible language. Visual aids, infographics, and real-life examples can go a long way in helping employees grasp these concepts.
3. Overlooking the Personal Value Proposition
Employees want to know what's in it for them. And the answer varies depending on their stage of life, income level, etc. Highlight the advantages based on various segments and their needs. For example, a young single employee may be more drawn to the low employee contributions (providing them with much-needed higher take-home pay), while an older employee may be drawn to the investment feature and potential retirement income offered through the HSA. Make it clear how these plans align with various employee segments' healthcare needs and financial goals.
4. Failing to Address Concerns
Communication should address employees' concerns and questions head-on. Anticipate common worries, like higher upfront costs with HDHPs, and provide solutions or explanations. Point out that all common preventive care is covered at 100% and that the employer contribution (if applicable) can be their first source of funds for expenses. Also, offering a dedicated channel for employees to ask questions can make a significant difference in building trust and confidence.
5. Not Emphasizing Education
These plans are very different from past plans and require a higher level of promotion and education. Organize webinars, lunch-n-learns, or Q&A sessions to delve deeper into the features and inner workings of HDHPs and HSAs. These opportunities empower employees to ask questions in real-time and receive personalized guidance, improving their overall understanding and decision-making.
6. Neglecting to Show the Math
Nothing speaks louder than showing someone what they can expect to pay out of their own pocket. Share “people like me” examples where you break down various healthcare utilization scenarios and show how the expenses funnel through the various plan options so employees can see the financial impact of their choice. There are many great modeling tools available that can help employees understand the personal financial impact between plan options.
7. Limited Communication Channels
Relying on a single communication channel might result in missed opportunities to reach all employees effectively. Especially if you have a variety of work arrangements (office employees vs. plant employees vs. remote and field employees). Employ a multi-channel approach, utilizing emails, newsletters, posters with QR codes, text messaging with links, and even video content to cater to various learning preferences and ensure your message reaches everyone.
8. Timing Is Everything
Announce HDHP and HSA information well in advance of open enrollment. Employees need time to digest the information, ask questions, and make informed decisions. Regular reminders leading up to enrollment deadlines can also prevent last-minute confusion.
9. Ignoring Follow-Up Communication
The communication process doesn't end with enrollment. Keep the conversation going throughout the year with periodic updates, tips on maximizing HSA benefits, and reminders about available resources. This ongoing engagement reinforces employees’ understanding and encourages active participation.
10. Lack of Feedback Loop
Communication is a two-way street. Encourage employees to share their feedback about the communication process, the plans themselves, and their experiences. Use this feedback to refine your communication strategy and continually improve the employee experience.
Effectively communicating HDHPs and HSAs requires a strategic approach that is clear, informative, and engaging. By avoiding these common pitfalls, you can empower your employees to make informed decisions about their healthcare and financial well-being. Remember, a well-informed workforce is a more satisfied and productive one.