Whenever you adjust your insurance benefits, you need a plan for explaining the health plan changes to your employees. After all, this impacts their most important workplace benefit. These tips will help you communicate more effectively.
Start the Discussion Early
Don’t wait until your next open enrollment to announce major changes to your health insurance plan. Let them know as soon as you decide what’s going to be different.
If premiums or out-of-pocket expenses are rising, employees need to rework their monthly budget for the higher costs. If your provider network will change, some employees may need to switch physicians. By giving employees more time to prepare, these adjustments will be less stressful.
Explain Why You Changed
If you have to make some difficult health plan changes, employees should know what drove your decision. Were claims higher than expected last year? Did your business have a tough year and now has a more limited budget for benefits? While employees may still be disappointed by these changes, when they understand why, they’ll be more understanding.
You can also point out just how much your company is paying for health insurance. In 2016, the average premium for a family plan in workplace health insurance was $18,142, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And premiums keep going up. When employees realize just how much insurance costs – and what portion they pay for it – they can appreciate how much you’re helping even if they need to pay more themselves.
Provide Benefit Information in Multiple Formats
As you lead up to switching plans, provide your employees with plenty of information about what will change. Will premiums go up? Will there be new out-of-pocket expenses? Is there a new type of provider network?
You should present this information in a variety of formats such as brochures, benefits packets, emails, seminars, one-on-one discussions with the HR decision-maker and online videos if provided by the insurance company. See if your broker or insurance company can send a representative to hold a Q&A session about the new plan, as well.
Every employee has a different learning style so offering a variety of ways to explain the changes helps them understand the new information.
Review Insurance Basics for the New Plan
As you go over the specifics of your health plan changes, don’t forget to review health insurance basics, as well. Employees don’t spend much time thinking about insurance terminology, so they may need a refresher.
They should understand key points like how deductibles and co-insurance work, the difference between a PPO and an HMO and how much their prescriptions would cost under a different plan. After this review, your employees will understand how to pick the right plan from your new program.
Making health plan changes is always a delicate situation, but by communicating the changes properly, you can have a smoother transition to your new benefits, and if you need further explanation on certain health care terms, check out our handy Health Care Glossary.
David Rodeck is a professional freelance writer based out of Delaware. Before writing full-time, he worked as a health- and life-insurance agent. He specializes in making insurance, investing and financial planning understandable.