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5 Steps for Year-round Benefits Engagement

Open enrollment is something you probably only think about a few times a year. For employees, it might be even less often. That’s why it’s important to touch on benefits throughout the year—to ensure employees are making the most of them. Here are five steps for providing employees with thoughtful, year-round benefits engagement:

1. Have a goal in mind—Think about your main employee benefits objective for the year.

2. Keep topics relevant—Stick to your goal throughout the year when communicating.

3. Aim for brevity—Get straight to the point with your messaging.

4. Change up the medium—Consider videos, flyers, posters and articles to vary messaging.

5. Set up a communication calendar—Space communications out for the most impact.

Reach out to us for more tips on helping employees maximize their benefits.

Benefits Education for Young Employees

Employee benefits aren’t always simple. In fact, for many young employees, they’re downright confusing. Look at basic health insurance term knowledge, for example. Only 7% of individuals can define terms like premium, deductible and coinsurance, according to UnitedHealthcare. Here are five ways you can start informing young employees about their benefits right away:

1. Start with benefits 101—Start educating with benefits 101 initiatives, assuming employees have no base knowledge. Resources in this area cover insurance basics, such as common terms, group health coverage ins and outs, and enrollment period restrictions.

2. Explain what’s in it for them—At the core of any transactional conversation is the question of “What’s in it for me?” Employees, especially younger ones, will undoubtedly want to understand why it’s worth it to learn insurance basics.

3. Vary the messaging—Use several formats to help reinforce benefits literacy among employees and capture more attention. Examples include email announcements, PowerPoints, videos, mail-home flyers, posters and comprehensive packets.

4. Don’t stop educating—Benefits literacy isn’t something achieved overnight. Rather, it should begin immediately and continue year-round.

5. Be there for questions—Have a dedicated person on the HR team help answer benefits-related questions. This individual should be available to respond to emails as well as attend in-person or virtual meetings.

You have a responsibility to educate your employees about their benefits. Young employees can’t be expected to understand their benefits nor make wise health care choices if they don’t understand benefits basics. Reach out to us for sample employee education materials.

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The Basics of HSAs

Investing in a health savings account (HSA) is a rapidly growing trend. An HSA is a tax-exempt savings account used to pay for qualified medical expenses of an individual, their spouse and dependents. If the funds are not used, the money will continue to grow over time. One of the most attractive features of the HSA is that these funds grow through the accrual of tax-free interest. Additionally, consider the following HSA basics:

  • HSAs have federally mandated annual limits that apply to HSA contributions.
  • HSAs are portable if you change jobs or medical coverage.
  • People ages 55 to 64 can make additional contributions to accelerate their savings rate.

And since an HSA can be invested in the market just like a 401(k), with tax-free interest, the opportunity for long-term growth is exponential. Talk with a Consociate Health representative to learn more.

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What is a TPA?

Occasionally, there is confusion in the marketplace about what a TPA does.

TPA stands for Third Party Administration—which means that we are a third party that administers employee benefit programs, including health insurance, from outside companies on behalf of employers.

In fact, Consociate Health partners with consultants and employers of all sizes as a trusted advisor to deliver innovative employee benefit programs, healthcare plan administration, consulting, and wellness initiatives.

As a licensed claims administrator, we provide administrative services for employer-sponsored health plans including enrollment and termination of plan participants. We also maintain plan records including tracking the status of claims as well as process claims.

We communicate with plan participants, authorized appointees, and health care providers. We maintain all patient information and other protected health care information in the strictest confidence.

The Plan Sponsor maintains current plan eligibility and records, and makes final decisions on doubtful or disputed claims.

To learn more about our unique cost containment strategies and award-winning standards for accuracy and service, contact us today.

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5 Strategies for Reducing Health Benefits Costs in 2021

Health benefits costs are almost certainly going to rise in 2021. They’ve been trending upward for years—over 50% in the last decade, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation—and the current state of economic uncertainty over COVID-19 won’t slow things down. Realistically, after enduring months of business closures and managing exhausted workforces, many employers will be lucky to maintain uninterrupted operations.

That’s why it’s critical for employers to think about reducing health costs right now—figure out cost-effective benefits first so money can be shuffled as needed later. Having a solid plan going into 2021 will better position organizations facing limited budgets.
Here are five cost-reduction strategies employers should explore:

1. Dig Into Health Costs
Employers don’t let themselves overpay for the materials they use during production, so why is health care any different? Employers should look into every health care figure they can, from overall premium costs to individual employee expenditures. Understanding where money goes can help focus cost-cutting efforts.For instance, if employees are going to the emergency room for every health visit, employers know they must promote more health literacy among their workforce. Speak with Consociate Health for details about digging into your health plan cost data.

2. Embrace Technology
The health care landscape of today is starkly different than the one of even a few years ago. Now, the name of the game is virtual health care or “telemedicine.” There are numerous ways for individuals to take charge of their health care without the hassle—and added cost—of in-person consultations. For example, there is tech that can monitor glucose levels to help diabetic employees without test strips; there are virtual visits available for doctors, psychiatrists and other health professionals; and there are countless wellness apps that can help individuals make proactive health choices.

3. Consider Alternative Plan Options
Not every plan option will work for every organization. For years, PPOs were the standard, but now high deductible health plans with savings options are having their moment. These plans enable greater heath consumerism and put the decision-making power into employees’ hands. Employers should consider offering mechanisms like HSAs, FSAs and HRAs to help shift costs without compromising health care quality.

4. Require Active Enrollment
Some organizations allow employees to passively enroll in their health benefits. This may seem like a nice timesaver, but it can actually hinder employee health literacy. Instead, employers should require active enrollment among employees. This approach would force employees to review all their benefits options each year before making selections. Not only does this make employees consider important life events, it also affords them an opportunity to reevaluate the benefits they’re paying for and potentially not using. Ultimately, active enrollment can make employees wiser health care consumers, improve proactive health care and lower overall health expenditures.

5. Change the Funding Structure
Another, more drastic, cost-cutting strategy is changing how health plans are funded. Most organizations use a fully insured model, where employers pay a set premium to an insurance provider, but that’s not the only option. For some employers, self-funding, level-funding or reference-based pricing models may be more attractive solutions.

Suffice it to say, there are a variety of ways that employers can structure their health plans—even if that means requiring employees to seek insurance in the individual health market. Whatever your needs, know that Consociate Health is here to help.

Contact us today to discuss your 2021 benefits.

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