Consumer-driven Health Plans Confuse Enrollees

As more employers are moving their workers into consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs), a new study has found that many employees don’t understand how such plans and their moving parts work.
The report found that there is widespread misunderstanding among enrollees in CDHPs about the health savings accounts (HSAs) or flexible spending accounts attached to those plans and health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs).
This is an increasingly important issue that needs to be addressed by employers as CDHPs and reimbursement accounts quickly gain traction.
The “Acclaris Consumer Education Survey” of health industry professionals found that:
• 64.5% of health industry professionals rated consumers’ knowledge of HSAs and HRAs as mediocre, while 28% rated consumer knowledge as poor.
• 40% of health professionals rated HSAs as the most difficult for consumers to understand, followed by HRAs at 27%.
• 63% of respondents said lack of education was the biggest hurdle to adoption of consumer-driven health accounts, while 19.5% said awareness was the greatest challenge.
• 32% said consumers didn’t know how an HSA could and should be used, while 18% said they didn’t know when to use health care accounts.
• 20% said consumers didn’t understand which expenses were reimbursable via HSAs.

Other findings
The Acclaris report also looked at deficiencies in the way employers are communicating with their employees about their health plans.
It found that:
E-mail is best way to educate your staff, not social media – When asked which communication channels were most effective at educating consumers, respondents cited e-mail as the most “loved” at 26%. In contrast, social media earned the highest “loathe” rating at 28%. If employers want to educate their employees, they should consider these communication channels, ranked from best to worst:
– E-mail
– Online help
– Benefits portal
– Seminars/peer forums
– Chat
– Text
– Telephone
– Social media

One-on-one conversation best content type – One-to-one conversations ranked highest on the “love” scale at 38% when respondents were asked about effective content types. Conversely, 22% of respondents rated pop-up tips as the most “loathed.”
Overall, the report found content ranked best to worst as follows:
– One-to-one conversations
– FAQs
– Seminars
– Brochures
– Videos
– Slide decks
– Podcasts
– Pop-up tips

Continuous education is prized – The majority of respondents agreed that consumers needed information at all points in the benefits process (47%) and continuously throughout the year (21%). Only 7% thought information could be limited to enrollment.

The takeaway
The results of this study are clear. Now more than ever, you need to engage with your covered staff about their benefits and ensure they understand how they work.
The worst thing that can happen for your employees is that you help pay for coverage that they don’t adequately understand. That in turn can lead to them not getting the most out of their plans, which in the long run can cost them money and also decrease their health outcomes.
Finally, you can turn to us to help you cut through the fog of confusion. We are here to help you and your employees get the most out of their health plans.