If you have a client who has been burned by a disappointing health savings account plan option before, trying to advise them on the strategy a second time can feel impossible.
But a few subtle changes in messaging and plan design can make a world of difference, and even your most reticent employers—and their employees— will be able to see the value in adopting HSA-eligible plans.
(Related: Surgeon Prescribes Cash for U.S. Health Problems)
First, when we talk about a “bad experience” with HSA plans, generally, we’re describing an employer who experienced low enrollment. Low enrollment constricts HSA savings, which can be significant. Consulting firm Mercer found HSA-eligible plans cost 22% less than traditional plans, even factoring in employer contributions to HSAs.
There are a few common pitfalls that lead to poor enrollment, and a few key tweaks to communication strategy and plan design can meaningfully improve the rollout and adoption of HSA-eligible plans for your clients.
When it comes to HSA adoption, messaging matters. Did your client previously refer to the HSA plan as a “high-deductible” plan? That’s the first mistake. When working with your client, you should refer to the plan as the “HSA-eligible plan,” and advise her to do the same. The traditional plan should be called the “co-pay plan.”
In announcing the new plan option, the employer should tell employees right off the bat that the network and the payroll deduction will be exactly the same between the HSA-eligible plan and the co-pay plan. More on the plan design later, but it’s important to lead with this when speaking to employees.
Why is this important? If employees see that the HSA-eligible plan costs less, they will automatically think it is a worse plan. Many employers and brokers make the mistake of thinking employees will want to save an extra $10 or $15 per month, but that amount is negligible to the employee if they think they’re downgrading their insurance.
As soon as the employer announces there is a new plan option, everyone will be wondering if it’s a downgrade and expecting the worst. Allay those fears by addressing them immediately: ”Everyone, we’ll have a new, HSA-eligible plan option this year. It will have the same network and cost the same amount as our current plan. The difference is in the plan design.”