Giving employees a better “shopping” experience

Jeff Rubleski

| 3 min read

More than half of all American consumers bought something online last holiday season. And retailers went all out trying to make the shopping experience simple, helpful and trouble-free. According to a recent study commissioned by Foresee, overall customer satisfaction with online shopping was 79% with Amazon again leading the pack with a score of 88%.
If your company offers several health plan options, how satisfied are your employees when they “shop” for coverage? Is it easy for them to evaluate their options? Are they guided to the plan that best meets their needs? Do you help them make their decisions? Do they even understand the most basic health care terms and concepts?
Probably not, says Jennifer Benz, a benefits communications consultant, in a recent Employee Benefits News article.
“So much of health care education has to be on a basic level. It never ceases to amaze us when we do focus groups with employees: You can talk to bilingual, minimum-wage workers or PhD-level executives and they have the same misunderstandings about how health care works. I’ve worked with PhD-level engineers who can’t tell you the difference between a copay and coinsurance.”
Research supports her point. In a national survey of more than 6,000 workers, nearly three out of four said that, when thinking about their choices for major medical insurance, they only sometimes or rarely understand everything that is covered by their policy.
Also, as more companies offer health benefits through defined contribution plans and private exchanges, their employees’ “shopping experiences” will become increasingly challenging. These plans typically will enable employees to select benefits from a wide variety of major individual medical plans as well as supplemental insurance products. According to the 2012 Employer Health Plan Study by J.D. Power and Associates, 47% of employers say they “definitely will” or “probably will” switch to defined contribution health care.
Here’s another sign of things to come: As of January 1, more than 135,000 employees at both Sears and Darden Restaurants (whose chains include Olive Garden and Red Lobster), will be given lump sums of money to use in choosing their medical plans from a private exchange. A big, but ground-breaking health benefits move for such large organizations.
We’ll be writing more about decision-support tools for defined contribution plans in future posts.
Rising benefit costs is a challenge for all companies. GlidePath, a new solution from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network, offers your mid-size company an innovative way to manage spending and risk. It can transform the way you finance your company’s health insurance coverage. With GlidePath’s defined-contribution solution, you can determine your company’s health benefit budget and simplify the administrative work that goes along with offering health benefits.
Photo Credit: justmakeit

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