Helping Employees Understand High-Deductible Health Plans

At a time when the cost of health care continues to rise, many employers have benefited from offering high-deductible health plans. According to one study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, these plans – which charge lower premiums in exchange for higher out-of-pocket costs – increase cost sharing without leading to higher spending on emergency department or inpatient care.

And while high-deductible plans may not be right for every employee, many people are in a position to benefit from this particular cost structure. Those who require regular health services may prefer more traditional plans, but those who are young and healthy may prefer a chance to save money on premiums – especially if they have an opportunity to put that money in a health savings account for when they need it.

It should come as no surprise, then, that 82 percent of employers expected to offer ABHP's with high-deductibles by the end of 2015, according to a survey conducted by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health. And yet, change can be difficult. Employees who are used to their current benefits may be skeptical of a new plan that appears to ask them to pay more out of pocket. It's important for businesses to conduct an honest dialogue with workers so they have a full understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of high-deductible plans, and can make the best decision for themselves and their families. 

Employers shouldn't expect everyone to sign up for these plans. But if they are forthright with their communication efforts, they should be pleased with the results.

Are Your Health Benefit Communication Efforts Working?

Start the discussion of high-deductible plans with your employees as soon as possible to give them time to make a decision. Here are some tips:

  • Explain what's in it for them. The real benefit of a high-deductible plan is that consumers are in control.  Rather than hand over a portion of their paycheck for monthly premiums, beneficiaries must get in the driver's seat and decide where their health dollars can be best spent. It involves a little more shopping around, but savvy consumers can realize savings over time.
  • Keep it simple. An article by the Society for Human Resource Management notes that its best to create simple presentations offering side-by-side comparisons of the real-world costs associated with high-deductible plans and all other offerings. Health care is already complicated enough. Don't scare employees away with incomprehensible charts and statistics.
  • Offer additional voluntary benefits. If employees are still nervous about losing certain benefits, why not entice them with some voluntary programs? The Institute for Healthcare Consumerism notes that accident or critical illness insurance can work well in conjunction with high-deductible plans.

Does your business still need some communication help? Groh & Associates specializes in helping employers and health plans create short, educational videos on specific resources, services and tools for managing health benefits. Check us out at www.grohcomm.com.

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