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America's Benefit Specialist December 2015 : Page 30

FINDING HOPE IN THE MIDST OF BENEFITS CONFUSION Courtesy of the Ameritas Group Division Lincoln, NE www.Ameritas.com Five years after PPACA was signed into law, over 30 million Americans now have health insurance. 1 However, PPACA changes have left many employers confused about their responsibility. Some employees also are frustrated about their health insurance coverage options, since many insurance car-riers have merged or dropped coverage. 2 In these scenarios, employees are told to select new insurance plans but are given limited information. Often they contact family members and friends for assistance in mak-ing benefits choices. Brokers have the opportunity to help employers and employees find hope in the midst of confusion. Help sort through benefits information to decide on coverage that is the best fit. Health assurance—We know employees value their healthcare benefits. They want the best coverage options they can afford. With all the turmoil in the insurance mar-ketplace, employees need assurance that the choices they make will provide the coverage they need. Information should clearly out-line the carrier and plan changes. Identify plans employees may want to consider for different family scenarios, including indi-viduals, married couples or parents with children. Given the confusion on medical plan coverage and premiums, many employers are keeping staple benefits that employees value as stand-alone plans, such as dental, hearing and vision. They want to avoid having employees get more frustrated with their benefits packages. Opportunity—The impending premium increases and PPACA taxes are causing employers to consider different opportu-nities for benefits coverage. Brokers and their trusted carrier representatives should work alongside employers to identify plan requirements and design plans that best match those needs. In addition to popular ancillary benefits such as dental, vision and hearing, consider a variety of unexpected plans that will capture employees’ interest, such as fitness or corporate memberships, pet insurance, travel incentives or finan-cial planning. Typically these plans are WE KNOW EMPLOYEES VALUE THEIR HEALTHCARE BENEFITS. THEY WANT THE BEST COVERAGE OPTIONS THEY CAN AFFORD. 30 HIU | hiu-digital.com

Finding Hope in the Midst of Benefits Confusion

Courtesy of the Ameritas Group Division Lincoln, NE

www.Ameritas.com

Five years after PPACA was signed into law, over 30 million Americans now have health insurance.1 However, PPACA changes have left many employers confused about their responsibility. Some employees also are frustrated about their health insurance coverage options, since many insurance carriers have merged or dropped coverage.2 In these scenarios, employees are told to select new insurance plans but are given limited information. Often they contact family members and friends for assistance in making benefits choices.

Brokers have the opportunity to help employers and employees find hope in the midst of confusion. Help sort through benefits information to decide on coverage that is the best fit.

Health assurance–We know employees value their healthcare benefits. They want the best coverage options they can afford. With all the turmoil in the insurance marketplace, employees need assurance that the choices they make will provide the coverage they need. Information should clearly outline the carrier and plan changes. Identify plans employees may want to consider for different family scenarios, including individuals, married couples or parents with children.

Given the confusion on medical plan coverage and premiums, many employers are keeping staple benefits that employees value as stand-alone plans, such as dental, hearing and vision. They want to avoid having employees get more frustrated with their benefits packages.

Opportunity–The impending premium increases and PPACA taxes are causing employers to consider different opportunities for benefits coverage. Brokers and their trusted carrier representatives should work alongside employers to identify plan requirements and design plans that best match those needs. In addition to popular ancillary benefits such as dental, vision and hearing, consider a variety of unexpected plans that will capture employees' interest, such as fitness or corporate memberships, pet insurance, travel incentives or financial planning. Typically these plans are low in cost and provide high dividends in employee wellbeing, productivity and job satisfaction.

Predictability–Studies show that more than half of employees say they spend less than 30 minutes researching and selecting their benefits coverage.3 Many plans look the same, and the coverage choices and costs are confusing. According to new research, instead of reviewing and enrolling in benefits plans, employees would rather:

• Clean out their email inboxes (38%)

• Clean their toilets (23%)

• Do their taxes (18%)

Employees want predictability in their benefits. They want plans to provide the expected coverage, not surprises. Employees don't want to find out that a procedure isn't covered or their copay is higher than they thought. Once employees find benefits and carriers they like, they don't want to change. Solicit employee feedback on plans, carriers and coverage needs, and work with carrier representatives to design customizable benefits that offer employees predictable costs and coverage.

Educate–Work with employers and carrier reps to develop a strategic communications plan to educate employees about their choices. Simplify information and craft interesting messages that show the value of benefits plans. Break down premiums into weekly or monthly costs and emphasize the importance of preventive care to lower healthcare costs and detect problems at an early stage. The communication strategy should list dates and topics for every month. Messages should encourage employees to use their benefits. And don't forget to provide reminders about dependent coverage changes that may occur during the year.

REMOVE WORRY

The uncertainty of today's benefits marketplace weighs heavy on the minds of employers and employees. Focus on putting worry behind by recommending benefits employees expect, with a range of coverage choices. Share benefits information in different styles and formats to effectively reach employees and family members. Communicate details on benefits costs, plan choices and usage recommendations to help employees and their family members get the most from their coverage.

1 www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/blog/2015/may/aca-facts-after-five-years

2 http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/22/investing/health-insurers-mergers-cigna-anthem/

3 www.cbs8.com/story/30241954/americansprefer-cleaning-toilets-over-researching-health-benefits

Read the full article at http://digitaleditions.sheridan.com/article/Finding+Hope+in+the+Midst+of+Benefits+Confusion/2333916/282949/article.html.

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