- Most companies will enter open enrollment this fall, and more than three quarters of the 1,000 employees interviewed in a new UnitedHealthcare survey said they're ready for it. According to the 2018 UnitedHealthcare Consumer Sentiment Survey, 82% of full-time workers said they're prepared for the annual benefits shopping season. Only 69% of millennials said they felt prepared.
- Technology has allowed employees to prepare themselves for open enrollment, the study found. More respondents than ever, 36%, said they had compared healthcare plans by doing research on the internet or on mobile apps. More than half of millennials used these tech tools to shop benefits in the past year. The majority of all comparison shoppers (84%) said the online shopping process was "very helpful" or "somewhat helpful."
- Eighty percent of respondents cited ancillary benefits, such as dental and vision, as "important." In time spent researching health benefits, the survey found that 42% spent less than one hour, 29% spent from one to three hours and 20% spent more than three hours. More than 65% of insured respondents said they researched health plan networks to see whether their preferred providers are in the plans they want.
Employers may want to note how this survey highlights technology's positive effect on respondents' ability to shop and wisely choose health benefits. Technology has revolutionized access to healthcare and workers are taking advantage of it. A Paychex study released in June found that 73% of full-time employees want and expect to have 24/7 access to their benefits. The study also found that just more than half of employers can accommodate that desire. Employers who are able to replace or upgrade outmoded systems may want to do so to keep up with employees' expectations, bolster retention and engagement, and compete in the struggle for talent in a tight labor market.
With open enrollment about to begin, and HR trying to get workers signed up with their benefit selections by the deadline, employers need to know how well employees understand their choices. Many employees don't understand their benefits as well as think. In fact, only 10% of employers in a recent HSA Bank white paper said they believe their workers understand their often-complicated health plans. HR can address the problem during open enrollment and throughout the year by communicating about benefits, updates and new offerings in clear detail, using various personalized methods, including tech platforms, in-person meetings and videoconferencing, to deliver the information to workers.