When open enrollment ends and every employee has checked a box for a health plan, is the broker or agent’s job finished? Should the employer be satisfied after this flurry of activity? Is the employee motivated to make better health decisions?
The true challenge of health care runs the rest of the year. An employee could get a diagnosis of diabetes or heart disease leading to lifelong worries and rising costs. Smoking, eating or stress-driven behaviors could degrade individual health. And lost productivity due to illness could cause bottom-line damage to the employer’s financial performance.
To truly get a grip on health care, employers — and brokers and agents who want to add value — need to engage employees all year long on practical issues of personal and financial health. And doing this is more complicated than shopping rates or handing out brochures at enrollment time.
Unfortunately, many employers often lack the resources and expertise to design and implement proper communication plans, especially in the small and mid-size employer segments.
Helping employers engage
As we have worked with hundreds of employers, brokers and third-party administrators, one fact has become clear: To put the brakes on spiraling health care costs, all of us must work together to change employees’ behavior — not just provide benefits that cover costs of getting sick and expect health to improve.
Especially in today’s changing health care market, an important way for brokers and agents to demonstrate value is to increase their involvement in helping employers communicate with employees.
We must get and keep employees — and their families — engaged because it is the choices employees and their families make that have the biggest impact on their health and health care costs. Benefits communication aimed at educating employees and their families about using plans effectively, and how daily choices and actions can impact health must be consistent throughout the entire year, not just during the few weeks of enrollment.