Insurance benefits were once a straightforward offering from an employer. These days, benefit packages offer more selection but also require employees to choose from a variety of options and contribute more to their cost.
For insurance benefit carriers, the challenge becomes how best to deliver benefit information to employees in the limited window of time during open enrollment. A new LIMRA study asked employees what communications they valued most when selecting their benefits.
“Not surprisingly, more than 8 in 10 employees focus on the cost information,” said Kim Landry, insurance research analyst at LIMRA. “In addition, 72 percent of employees will look at a detailed benefit plan description when one is available.”
In terms of how they want to learn about benefit options, employees are most likely to use printed materials at work (83 percent) or home (76 percent). Accessing the information online (70 percent) and by email (61 percent) were used slightly less often.
“While printed materials may be more effective at capturing their attention, employees we interviewed also liked having access to benefit information online,” said Landry.
About half of employees recall having access to decision-support tools to help make choices about their benefits. The tools most often used allow employees to make side-by-side comparisons and calculate costs or insurance needs. Other, more interactive tools offer tailored recommendations based on questions that employees answer.
“Employees told us these interactive tools were the most useful to them, yet they were used less than the other tools,” said Landry. “This speaks to the need for carriers to actively market their interactive tools so employees are more aware of them.”
When offered, 71 percent of employees attend group meetings on benefits. Despite their strong attendance, employees find group meetings less useful than nearly every other form of communication.
“Employees express concerns such as discomfort about asking personal questions in a group, too much time devoted to other workers’ questions, and confusion about the material, “said Landry. “Employees said one-on-one meetings were the most useful to them.”
Because employees are likely to have benefit questions at any point during the enrollment period, they want a place to go for answers. Most cited assistance from HR staff or a phone number to call as important resources for their questions. Landry said employees who have these resources available are more likely to feel confident in their benefit selections.