There are a lot of moving parts to an employee health benefits plan. It’s a lot of information to absorb, so chances are you have questions. This is probably true regardless of whether you already sponsor an employee benefits plan or if you’re just considering launching a plan. Let’s take a few moments to address four of the most common questions about employee health benefits.
1. Can I afford to sponsor an employee benefits plan?
First off, let’s start by acknowledging that sponsoring an employee health benefits plan is an investment – it’s not just an expense. An investment means that you expect to get something back in return. This is certainly the case when you sponsor an employee health benefits plan. There are important monetary and non-monetary returns on your investment (we’ll discuss those in more detail in another of the questions).
When it comes down to actually being able to afford to sponsor a plan, the first thing to note is that the right employee benefits provider can develop a plan to fit your budget. There are many variables when it comes to the types of coverage in the plan and the level of coverage. These can be adjusted to meet your budget. Cost-sharing is another tool to help fit the plan into your budget. The premiums can be shared between you and your employees.
For small businesses, there are options such as the Smart Plan for Small Business. This plan includes all of the most common coverages and provides total cost transparency. This way you’ll know right away if you can afford to sponsor a plan.
The final consideration around affordability relates to cost control mechanisms embedded in the plan. At GroupHEALTH, we have both built-in services that help control costs, and optional measures that you can choose during plan design.
Disability Management Services – All long-term disability plans from GroupHEALTH come with disability management services. These services help support ill or injured employees, provide you with non-confidential updates (to help with scheduling for the absence) and include a customized return-to-work plan for the employee. The idea is to get them back to work as soon as they’re able; this helps shorten the duration of the disability claim, which ultimately controls costs.
Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) – All employee health benefit plans from GroupHEALTH include access to an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). This confidential service means employees get support for their mental health. Having this support can prevent more serious mental health events, leading to a decrease in prescription drug and disability claims related to mental health.
Smart Rx Solutions – Smart Rx Solutions are prescription drug plan options that target costs. These plan options focus on encouraging employees to select generic drugs or lower-cost alternatives. The other element is the requirement to purchase prescriptions through a central dispensing pharmacy. When filling a prescription, the choices the employee makes determines whether or not they receive full coverage.
There are many variables when it comes to the cost of sponsoring an employee benefits plan. In most cases, there really is a plan for every budget.
2. Why should I sponsor an employee benefits plan?
The first and most obvious reason to sponsor an employee benefits plan is to support your employees. The people that work for you are your most valuable asset and helping them maintain good physical and mental health is good for business. Healthy employees have fewer absences and are more productive at work. This benefits you financially.
Another good reason to sponsor an employee benefits plan is to support recruitment and retention at your organization. It’s a competitive labour market and whether your company offers good employee benefits can have a direct impact on whether a prospective employee accepts your job offer. For current employees, a good employee benefits plan can deter your employees from pursuing other job prospects. This is an example of a financial return on your investment because recruiting and retaining new employees is costly.
3. Why aren’t more employees using their employee health benefits?
If you sponsor employee health benefits to plan and usage is low, that’s a problem. If employees aren’t using the plan, then they’re not getting value from it. You’re not getting value from it either – it’s difficult to get a good return on investment if it’s not being used.
There are a couple of common reasons why users may be low. First off, it may be related to awareness. Your employees may not be familiar with their benefits, how to claim and what is covered. This can be remedied by providing better benefits information. Better information may be needed both at hiring and on an ongoing basis. Consider hosting regular information sessions, highlighting benefits information on internal sites and providing employees with a yearly total compensation statement (to highlight the value of the benefits they are receiving).
Another reason that employee benefits plan usage might be low is because the plan is out-dated. If the plan doesn’t include coverages and services that your employees actually want, then they are less likely to use the plan. If your plan lacks sought-after benefits like virtual healthcare, online benefits claims and Accident and Serious Illness (ASI) coverage, this may be one reason your plan usage is low. It may be time to adjust your plan.
4. Is it a lot of work to switch to a different employee benefits provider?
The answer to this question really depends upon the provider. While we can’t speak for other providers, when you switch to GroupHEALTH we work hard to make the transition as easy as possible. We have digital enrollment which streamlines the enrollment process. Employees receive an e-mail invite to register, then are prompted through the enrollment process. The system provides explanations about options and prompts for missing information. The result is more accurate information. It’s also great for your plan administrator because the system follows up on incomplete or missing enrollments and provides the plan administrator with reports on the progress of the enrollments.
Good Advice is Key
Employee benefits is a complicated topic and it’s hard to know it all. If you have questions, it’s time to get some answers. Get answers and explore options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.
Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefits packages that work as hard as you do.