Roughly one-third of employees need help understanding their benefits in any given year. TPAs can increase benefits adoption and usage by providing a thorough, easy-to-understand benefits education – ideally, that continues year-round.
Participants Need Benefits Education
As society faces constant information overload, Ameritas has found several causes of the need for increased benefits education:
- Preoccupation – The attention people pay to their other personal and professional obligations can interfere with efforts to learn about their benefits.
- Feeling overwhelmed – Presented with numerous benefit choices, including some that may be complex, employees can feel overwhelmed. This can result in employees ignoring some or all of their benefit options.
- Short attention spans – Three out of four employees spend less than an hour reviewing and enrolling in their benefits each year, and the average is just 18 minutes! Materials that don’t “educate at a glance” may get no attention.
- Financial stress – Financially-challenged employees may not contribute less than their allowances to tax-advantaged benefit accounts, forgoing the associated tax savings.
Why is benefits education a TPA problem?
TPAs are retained by brokers and employers to create valuable benefits programs in support of worker well-being. Subsequently, employers expect a return on their benefits investment (ROI) in the form of manageable costs and happier, more productive employees.
But when employees don’t understand their benefits, two problems occur. First, some employees will refrain from accessing healthcare or delay obtaining care, leading to more serious health issues that drive up plan costs, increase absenteeism, and reduce productivity. Second, participants who don’t understand their benefits may experience negative results such as “use it or lose it” failures that increase financial stress.
Fewer employees adopting or renewing benefits means fewer covered lives, directly impacting TPA revenue. Further, the employer may seek the services of a different TPA if not satisfied with participation rates or influenced by negative employee comments.
What can TPAs do to help?
It’s important to remember that open enrollment often occurs during the Fall holiday season when employees are usually busy with a lot on their minds. By the time the plan year begins, many forget what they learned about things such as eligible expenses and how to submit claims, or they may have misplaced their benefits debit card. TPAs can increase value tremendously by providing year-round reminders, how-to’s, and tips to boost participant knowledge and maximize benefits usage.
Of course, educational materials are only as effective as the understanding they foster. When developing materials, consider the workforce’s demographic factors, particularly generational influences. While Baby Boomers may resist digital communications, for example, Gen Z may resist stacks of printed materials equally as much. A mix of materials is likely needed with content that’s not just informative, but also engaging and even fun.
Go it alone or find a partner?
Creating and managing a targeted, year-round educational strategy takes time and effort, but the payoffs are substantial. Employees who understand their benefits are healthier, more satisfied, and more productive. In turn, their employers will be happier with your services, and the TPA is in the best possible position to grow their business and revenues. It’s a WIN-WIN-WIN!
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