Three Ways To Support Employees This Open Enrollment

Oct. 27, 2023

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It is the season of open enrollment. It can be a busy and stressful time for employers and their employees. But it’s also an opportunity to help employees understand their benefits — so they’ll use them wisely in the year ahead. 

BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina’s Customer Experience (CX) team spent a lot of time this year speaking with employers and employees about their experiences with open enrollment. Stephanie Yandle, manager of CX research and innovation with BlueCross, shares a few of the key themes that came from this work. 

“We know that there are ways during the enrollment period to reduce common pain points we see once employees begin using their health insurance,” she says.

1. Don’t skip over the benefits basics.

Standard language for health insurance feels intimidating to the average health care user. Our research shows that members do not feel comfortable describing words like “deductible” or “coinsurance” to a friend or family member. 

We get it. Health care lingo can be very confusing! Employers can help by making sure definitions and real scenarios are part of the enrollment experience.  

“We can’t expect members to become health insurance experts. But we can help them feel more confident about going to get care by helping them understand the key terms that directly impact their wallet,” Yandle says. “Deductible, coinsurance, copay and premium. These are the building blocks of health insurance plans. We need to simplify this.”

The need for education at enrollment has become even more important with the popularity of high deductible health plans or HDHPs. These plans are a great option for some individuals and families. But they operate differently than a traditional PPO plan.

“We cannot stress this point enough for employers offering both PPO and HDHP designs to their employees. Give your employees examples of how each will work during their first doctor’s visit or trip to the pharmacy,” Yandle says. “We see a lot of sticker shock at the beginning of the year, especially at the pharmacy, for members who are new to an HDHP and expecting a standard copay.” 

Employers can contact their dedicated account representative to request BlueCross marketing material for breaking down the benefits basics. Our Know the Lingo video series is also a great tool for employers to share. 

2. Give your employees questions to consider.

Everyone has different health care needs. A few simple questions can help employees understand their personal needs and the plan(s) being offered at enrollment. 

Examples of helpful questions include:

  • When was the last time you saw a doctor? 
  • Do you expect to visit the doctor more or less this year?
  • What medications are you currently taking?
  • Is there a medical procedure you or a family member may need in the coming year?
  • Do you plan on expanding your family this year? If so, what would this plan look like with an additional dependent?

“Many people enroll without pausing to think about how they’ll use their insurance in the coming year,” she says. “Encourage your employees to make this a thoughtful choice and a family discussion.” 

Your BlueCross account representative can provide marketing material outlining things to consider when choosing a plan. Employees can also use our online tools to confirm medications that are covered and doctors in the Preferred Blue® network.  

3. Be transparent.

We want members to know what is and isn’t included in their coverage. They should know this when they enroll, not when they try to use their insurance. 

If there is a notable change to your company’s benefits from the previous year, spotlight this information so that employees understand the change up front. 

“We’re all guilty of emphasizing the exciting stuff in our marketing material and moving the bummers to the back. But employees don’t want a sales pitch. They want to understand how their insurance will work in simple, transparent terms,” she says. “You can still spotlight the perks of your company’s benefits package. Just don’t let it overshadow any key information that employees need to know.”

Employers have a lot on their plate during enrollment. Many of our clients have small teams responsible for large enrollments. BlueCross is your partner. We’re here to help make your enrollment successful.  

“Our customer research directly influences the marketing material we develop for employers,” says Yandle. “Lean on us and let us help you communicate the health insurance basics to your employees.”

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