3 Tips for Building A Communications Plan that Increases Adoption
Employees are more likely to transition to a Consumer-Driven Health Plan (CDHP) if they know more about them. This is why a comprehensive, and ongoing, communication plan is essential. Here are some tips on how to construct a robust communication plan that drives employee adoption.
1. Simplify the Message
- Healthcare choices are complicated, so employers should use easy-to-understand language that breaks down complex terms and concepts; avoid the jargon.
- Refer to a High-Deductible Health Plan as an HSA-eligible plan, not an HDHP. The term “high-deductible,” alone, can cause some individuals to veer away from considering the many advantages of a combined HDHP and HSA.
- When discussing Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), avoid complicated tax-related terms and keep the messaging simple. Rather than digging into the details of the triple tax-advantaged savings account, the message might simply be: “We give you money to use to pay for your healthcare expenses.”
2. Visualize the Cost Savings
During the first-year rollout it’s crucial that early adopters visualize the short and long-term cost savings from a Consumer-Driven Health Plan. This can be accomplished most effectively through visuals, such as an infographic or chart, rather than paragraphs of text. Create an easy-to-understand visual that compares the total CDHP costs (annual prices for premiums, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses, with the savings subtracted from an HSA), to the total costs of the other plan options (PPO or HMO). Even further customizing visuals to varying employee life stages can provide a greater sense of how their health plan decision will personally impact them.
Employees should also be encouraged to use a health plan comparison tool to see how much they’ll save compared to other plans, an eligibility calculator that outlines their maximum annual HSA contribution options based on IRS regulations, and a future value calculator to visualize how much money they could potentially save over the course of a lifetime when making regular maximum contributions to their Health Savings Account.
3. Focus on the Benefits for the Employee
Most employees only want to know “What do I get?” and “How much is this going to cost or save me?” These questions should be answered, as simply and as clearly as possible, across all communications. For Health Savings Accounts, highlight how HSAs complement retirement planning. Assist employees in realizing that an HSA is like a 401(k) for healthcare, with the added benefit that they can spend the money from the date of HSA-eligible plan enrollment, throughout retirement. Also, show how much they can save on premiums and if an employer is contributing to employee HSAs, emphasize their commitment to the employee’s health and financial well-being. But be sure that the information is presented in a balanced way otherwise employees might become overwhelmed. It’s most effective to introduce HSAs at a high-level and then follow up with additional details.
How to Rollout the Communications Plan
When introducing a CDHP, start communicating early. How early an employer begins communicating plan changes can depend on the size of the company. Ideally, large employers should start communications one year to nine months in advance, mid-size companies should begin at least six months prior; and small groups should start at least three months prior to Open Enrollment. The rule is, however, the sooner, the better. These early communications should cover what and why the change is being made. And since employees consume information differently, multiple communication channels and mediums should be leveraged to ensure effective dissemination.
People generally think they know a lot more about health insurance than they do. A survey found that 96% of Americans overestimate their understanding of health insurance concepts. And when asked to define common health insurance terms such as deductible, co-insurance, co-pay, and out-of-pocket maximum, only 4% of respondents could define all four terms. This is why a glossary of terms is an essential part of the communication contents. Frequently Asked Questions, such as a Health Savings Account FAQ, are another piece of helpful content to address common questions and misconceptions before they are asked. And, finally, don’t forget to leverage partner calculators so employees can customize projections for their anticipated needs.
Four Ways Education Can Increase Consumer-Driven Health Plan Satisfaction
To have successful Consumer-Driven Health Plan implementation, and heightened satisfaction, it’s vital that the basics of CDHPs are communicated, that employers support employees in plan selection, and a few best practices are especially followed before and during Open Enrollment, but also year-round.
1. Consumer-Driven Health Plan Basics
Continual education is paramount to driving home the value of a Consumer-Driven Health Plan, increasing plan satisfaction, plus the rate of full replacement. As part of a larger communication plan, employers should share these four CDHP basics with employees. This will ensure that current and prospective CDHP members are informed of the plan’s benefits.
The Four CDHP Basics:
- HDHPs provide lower-cost premiums and out-of-pocket costs can be lower.
- HSAs are triple tax-advantaged accounts. The account holder can save up to 35%* more in taxes, and are not taxed when spending on a broad range of everyday healthcare expenses for the employee, their spouse, and tax dependent children.
- All preventative care services are covered without charging coinsurance, even if you haven’t met your yearly deductible.
- HSA funds never expire and rollover from year-to-year, through retirement, even if an employee changes jobs or health insurance.
2. Before and During Open Enrollment
Months, if not a year, before Open Enrollment employers should communicate the news about the Consumer-Driven Health Plan addition. This news should be accompanied by the roll-out of monthly thematic CDHP education, plus mandatory in-person meetings to introduce the CDHP. When Open Enrollment comes around it’s important to choose active versus passive benefit enrollment. This way, employees play an active role in deciding their health benefits on an annual basis, rather than defaulting to the previous year’s selection.
3. Health Plan Selection
Assisting employees in evaluating their health plan options based upon their specific financial situation and health needs is vital for health plan satisfaction. In this instance, a health plan comparison calculator is a beneficial tool for comparing projected healthcare costs and determining the most economical option for an employee’s expected healthcare usage. Such tools take monthly premiums, the annual deductible, and the out-of-pocket maximum into consideration, so employees can make the most informed healthcare decisions.
Ongoing, and Seasonally
Once Open Enrollment is behind them and employees are becoming accustomed to their new (or renewed) healthcare plan, they’ll want to know how to get the most from their plan. Here are some helpful tips to increase engagement and plan satisfaction no matter the season.
- Encourage employees to make pre-tax HSA contributions.
- Promote the use of preventative care services offered with the Affordable Care Act.
- Encourage employees to tell their doctors they’re on a CDHP before making decisions about care. This can reduce cases of large and unforeseen medical bills.
- In non-emergency situations, promote telehealth.
- Encourage the use of shoppable medical and dental procedures, plus medication comparison shopping.
- Provide resources beyond open enrollment, such as tax season deadline and required HSA tax forms, lifestage considerations, and policy updates.
To learn more about how to increase Consumer-Driven Health Plan adoption and satisfaction download the white paper, Curbing Rising Costs: How to Manage Increasing Healthcare Costs With A Consumer-Driven Health Plan.
- Assumes 35% combined state and federal tax savings.
Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.