Did health insurance enrollment rates drop at your company this year? If so, it’s important to take active steps to improve enrollment in the future. Employees with poor health can lead to lost productivity and can cost businesses $1,685 per employee or $225.8 billion a year, according to Forbes.
Don’t ignore a drop in enrollment. Here are seven steps you can take to address the issue.
1. Seek Honest Feedback
First, ask your employees to honestly share why they didn’t sign up for a plan this year. Try an anonymous survey that includes open-ended questions so employees can truly express how they feel. Ask questions about cost — like deductibles and premiums — as well as ancillary options and whether their preferred doctors were in the network. Don’t forget to ask if they currently have coverage and, if so, why they didn’t switch. You might even seek out the more “popular” employees who talk to a lot of people on staff to get their specific input. When you receive complaints, whether in person or through your survey, don’t ignore them. You might later send out a Q&A to your employees, sharing the most common responses and what you’re planning to do to help address concerns.
2. Present Different Cost Options
One of the reasons employees avoid health insurance is because of how much it costs. Consider offering different plans and letting your employees choose how much they want to spend. You can offer to cover a specific amount in the premium, allowing your employees to choose a more expensive plan if they’re willing to pay more. You can also offer a high-deductible plan coupled with a health savings account to help lower costs.
3. Offer Popular Benefits
Look into which benefits were most popular in 2017 and try to offer some of those next time. For example, in 2017 certain voluntary benefits were especially popular, including dental, vision, hospitalization and even accident coverage. Employees also appreciated plans that offered multiple ways to get medical help, such as telemedicine, nurse hotlines and retail clinics.
4. Create a Culture of Wellness
Employees are more likely to be interested in health plans if you’re creating a work culture that promotes wellness. Offer healthy snack and drink options at work. Give employees extra time in their lunch break if they’re going to the gym. Consider offering a wellness program that addresses issues such as weight loss, exercise or smoking cessation.
5. Offer Meetings for Health Care Questions
Make it easy for employees to get answers about health care. Offer your health insurance agent’s email or phone number for questions, and see if they can come by periodically to meet one on one with staff. And allow your employees to bring their partners to the meetings, since partners sometimes play a big role in health care decisions. This will help employees know they’re not just a number.
6. Provide Materials Early
It’s possible that your employees didn’t sign up because they didn’t have the details soon enough. This year, choose what plans you want to offer early on and provide materials well ahead of the enrollment deadline. And make those materials available through a variety of channels, including brochures, online portals and email. The materials should answer four basic questions: why the coverage is needed, which features match employees’ needs, the value the plans provide and how much it will cost per paycheck, the Society for Human Resource Management suggests. You might even enlist your marketing department’s help in creating material that is pleasing to the eye and easy to understand. And include testimonials that talk about costs and deductibles to help make it personal.
7. Educate Employees on How Easy It Is to Switch Plans
Sometimes people don’t switch to new plans because they think switching is more difficult than it really is. Teach your employees that getting a new plan is easy. When it’s time to enroll, if needed, have an insurance agent present who can walk your employees through the process one-on-one.
If your health insurance enrollment rates were down this year, there’s no reason to panic — but don’t ignore the issue, either. Ask questions and listen to your employees’ concerns about what you offered, looking for ways to address those concerns in the coming year. With some research and education, you can turn around enrollment rates next time.
Stay up to date on the latest health care regulations and trends for your small business: subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter.