Knowledge is power, but when it comes to health coverage and your business, the effectiveness of that knowledge depends on how it’s presented. Many employees don’t fully understand what benefits they actually have or how to make sure that they don’t end up with a large, unexpected bill. That’s why it’s so important to help your employees understand their benefits and how to best use them. With open enrollment starting up again, it’s imperative that you start educating your employees now.

How do you present information in a helpful way? One way is to provide links and information from reputable news sources and government websites. Focus on resources that clearly explain the information without becoming overly technical or using too much jargon.

Here are some tips for educating your employees:

  • Answer the big questions first: Your employees want to know if their coverage is changing. Let them know up front that they don’t have to worry and they’ll still have health insurance. Addressing this question right away will alleviate many employee concerns.
  • Keep it simple: Don’t waste your employees’ time by trying to explain every part of the Affordable Care Act or every nuance of your company’s decisions. Keep your education limited to what they’re worried about: how the decisions affect their lives, their financial future and their families.
  • Use multimedia educational tools: Educational methods that work best vary from generation to generation, so use variety. Offer one-on-one meetings, seminars, a Web portal about benefits, handouts and social media discussions. Make things as accessible as possible to employees of all demographics. Most health insurers will have tools ready for you to use with your employees, so be sure to reach out to your broker or representative.

How can these educational opportunities help your business? There are a few benefits to open communication about health coverage.

Improve Employee Understanding

Many people are confused about even basic health care terminology and procedures. They often don’t know when they need a referral and what the addtional costs are for going out of network. An even bigger confusion is which services are fully covered, which ones are covered after a certain deductible is met, and which services are not covered at all. This can lead to a shock when an employee receives a bill for a strep throat test because she hadn’t yet met her deductible. Explain to employees what resources they can use to check on specific coverage so they can make informed decisions about care.

Another way to help employees understand their insurance plans is to make sure they know the most important terminology, including deductible, network, PPC, co-pay, co-insurance and explanation of benefits. Having a good sense of what these terms means will go a long way toward successfully navigating benefits. This will also help them understand how new regulations related to the ACA may change their coverage.

Increase Productivity and Health Awareness

Open communication and straightforward explanations concerning available health benefits options will go a long way toward stemming stress. If you can make employees feel more assured about benefits and any changes, they’ll spend less time worrying and more time being productive.

Talking through health care topics could also be a good time to segue into healthy initiatives in the workplace. Although it may seem like it’s obvious that healthier workers are more productive (as shown by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), this may not be so clear to all employees. If a wellness initiative is in your company’s future, then there’s no time like the present to get these topics on the minds of your employees.

Health coverage can be a tricky topic to navigate among employees. Not all employees will have the same level of understanding and the same specific needs when it comes to health benefits. By educating your employees, you can lower collective stress levels and get people focused on everyday work.