Self-funded employers have a range of features they can add to their plan in order to increase savings. But many of these only matter if employees actually use them. So good employee communication isn’t just about member satisfaction; it can have a real impact on a plan’s financial performance.
In our latest webinar, we spoke with Emma Fox from E Powered Benefits and Flume Health’s own Head of Marketing, Grant Parker, about how to effectively educate employees about a new health plan. Here are a few of their recommendations. (You can watch a recording of the full webinar at the top of this page.)
Health benefits are often viewed as an HR problem, and in many ways HR does lead the charge on helping employees use their health plan. But truly effective employee communication take more than this.
At Flume Health, we like to talk about the three-legged stool of the C-suite, HR, and the plan’s benefits advisor. For a plan to be successful, you need buy-in from all three parties. This is true for employee communication as well. HR may deliver the bulk of the communication, but it’s important that the benefits advisor, who knows the ins and outs of the plan, is involved in crafting the right message, and that the C-suite is willing to lend their authority to amplify the healthcare messages that members need to hear.
Many Open Enrollment meetings just consist of telling members basic plan information, like what their deductible is. But when Emma does an Open Enrollment, she often ignores the Summary of Benefits all together. Why? Because an Open Enrollment that focuses on what a member’s deductible is ends up essentially focusing on barriers to care (having to pay a deductible is incentive not to go to the doctor), rather than opportunities to get value from your health plan. Instead, it’s better to focus on the ways employees can access care, and the incentives to do so in the right way.
When looking beyond Open Enrollment for employee education opportunities, Grant recommends that the first thing you do is figure out is where employees get their information. Talk to the client about where they typically make announcements, give reminders, etc. Do they use email? Do they have signs up in the break room?
Once you’ve found the best channels for reaching employees, he recommends communicating early and often. At Flume, we have an email “checklist” that employees receive twice a week for the first two months of the plan. It prompts them to take basic steps, such as creating an account at my.flumehealth.com, or setting up their Telemedicine account. That way, when a member needs to use their plan, they’re already set up and ready to go.
Emma doesn’t just interact directly with members at Open Enrollment. E Powered Benefits will continue to talk to members throughout the year. If the company is tech-savvy, they might have quarterly webinars on specific topics. Or sometimes they actually travel to the client’s office a few times a year to have in-person meetings.
These aren’t always group meetings. Emma sees value in meeting with individual members. This allows the member to bring specific challenges or personal health issues to the conversation, and allows Emma to teach them how to access care in the right ways for their unique situation. This is also a great opportunity to talk to people who might just be unwilling to raise their hand and ask a question in a large group.
Every client is different, and it’s important to take these strategies and adapt them to a group’s unique needs and situation. By taking these strategies and applying them to your own clients, we hope you’ll be able to go from employee education that just passed along plan information to initiatives that teach members how to use their plan successfully.
If you want to hear more of Emma and Grant’s thoughts on successful employee communication, be sure to watch the webinar recording above.
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