The problem with consumer-driven healthcare, and what HR can do to help

Most employers see consumer-driven healthcare (CDH) as a key part of their long-term healthcare strategy.
In fact, 75% of employers said CDH plans are a highly strategic part of their overall benefit strategy, according to the 2017 Alegeus Brokers and Employers CDH Insights Report.

A key disconnect

But despite the fact that so many firms see the value of CDH, most employers aren’t getting the results they expected from this option.
Reason: There’s a gap between the education and communication employers say they’re offering employees and what employees say they’re actually receiving.
Specifically, 79% of employers believe they are excellent or very good at providing in-depth information around CDH, but just 60% of consumers would agree. The study also found only 47% of consumers feel the content and info around CDHPs is personalized.

An expert’s take on improvement areas

HR Morning recently sat down with John Young, the senior vice president of consumerism and strategy at Alegeus, to discuss how HR pros can help to close that gap between employers and employees as well as how firms could better personalize CDH info.
To improve employees’ understanding of CDH plans, Young says:

 Employers play a critical role to help employees realize the value of consumer directed healthcare (CDH); however, they find their efforts don’t always resonate. While employers may believe they are doing enough, employees say they still struggle to understand their CDH plans and accounts. 
According to the 2017 Alegeus Brokers and Employers CDH Insights Report, employers still need significant support to ensure effective engagement that educates consumers throughout the plan year.
Today, 65% of employers communicate health benefits only during open enrollment. This one-time window is too small and information is forgotten by the time it’s needed. With CDH, consumers require on-demand access to information and resources to make informed healthcare spending and saving decisions.
Currently, only 35% of employers allow benefit solution providers to communicate directly to their employee populations.  Our company (Alegeus) works to improve those figures. We work to educate consumers year-round – building confidence and increasing adoption and usage of CDH accounts.

On the topic of personalized communications, Young offered the following advice:

In today’s hyper-connected world, personalized communications provide more relevance and therefore, are more actionable. A number of benefit firms (including Alegeus) supports employers to offer a new level of personalization that helps their employees become more empowered and engaged with CDH plans and accounts.
Employers need an active engagement strategy throughout the year, and open enrollment can be optimized with a few best practices. We recommend employers begin communicating eight weeks prior to open enrollment with messaging that focuses on CDH account benefits. These communications should include tools that empower consumers to see how they can move-the-needle to meet their personal, unique healthcare spending and saving needs.
One such tool could be an interactive quiz designed to guide the decision-making process based on personalized recommendations. Communication materials should help employees understand plan basics, decide which plan is best for them, determine how much to contribute, and ultimately bring all this information together to deliver more actively-engaged and better-informed decisions.