In an effort to save healthcare costs, many employers continue to shift more responsibilities onto their employees. And while the move has saved employers money, its left workers scrambling to plan and prepare.

According to an Alegeus-commissioned study of more than 4,000 U.S. healthcare consumers, 66% rated planning for out-of-pocket costs as the most challenging and stressful aspect of managing their healthcare. More than half said they lack the knowledge and the tools to predict out-of-pocket costs for this year and the future.

“Many employees are being forced to make some decisions and understand how to pay out of pocket for the first time,” says John Park, the chief strategy officer at Alegeus. “Once they have more experience it will become easier. They’ll become smarter consumers.”

Unfamiliarity and confusion
Alegeus’ findings show that a lot of the challenges consumers face when navigating their new healthcare responsibilities may stem from this unfamiliarity and confusion. More than 40% struggle with making savings and investment decisions. Nearly 60% reported that they found it difficult to compare costs of different providers, holding them back from potential savings, while 69% consumers claimed that deciphering healthcare jargon was also a significant barrier to their decision-making. This jargon can even prevent consumers from ensuring that they’re paying the right amount for their medical bills.

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Advisers and employers can help their workers make the switch by providing them with information and breaking down the complicated healthcare topics that they may not be familiar with.

“In a lot of cases, employees haven’t been engaged in the process as effectively as they could have been,” Park says. “Now, people haven’t fully processed their new responsibilities in a way that makes sense, and there are a lot of questions and anxiety at an employee. Employers can provide the guidance to help their employees learn and bring resources to them.”

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Caroline Spiezio

Caroline Spiezio

Caroline Spiezio is an intern at Employee Benefit News and Employee Benefit Adviser and a rising senior studying journalism and economics at Northwestern University.