All too often we get caught up in day-to-day activities and forget who it is that we ultimately serve: employees. Without employees signing up for benefits, querying accounts, using services provided and generally trying to take care of themselves and their families, we wouldn't have businesses to run. To bring this point home, I offer the following composite sketches (based on anecdotes from brokers, vendors and employers) - oh to be a fly on the wall ...
Cart before the horse
Employee 1: "Did you see the announcement about our FSA plan for next year?"
Employee 2: "Yeah, the deadline for enrollment is a week from Friday."
Employee 1: "But we don't get the medical plan packets until after that!?"
Employee 2: "I know. So, how can we choose the FSA when we don't know what our other options are?"
Employee 1: "I don't know."
Why should I care?
Manager: "I finally got that colonoscopy. Everything checked out just fine."
Accountant: "Where did you get it?"
Manager: "My doctor is affiliated with the local hospital, so I had it done there."
Accountant: "Hmm, that's an expensive place to get a colonoscopy. There are other facilities that cost much less."
Manager: "What difference does it make? I already met my deductible and it was covered 100%."
Well, well, wellness
Marketing Specialist: "Hey, did you get your blood test yet? They're set up in the first floor conference room. It's part of our new wellness program. All I know is that you get a hundred bucks for getting it done."
Software Engineer: "Gee, maybe I'll get it done ten times - then I can get that controller for my gaming system!"
Marketing Specialist: "Nah, you might run out of blood." Laughs and says, "You only get paid once anyway."
Software Engineer: "I know. Just kidding. But what's the deal anyway? Why are we doing this?"
Marketing Specialist: "I don't really know. They had some flyers down in the conference room. I just want my hundred bucks."
Dying for coverage
HR Person 1: "Such sad news about Joe's passing. He was only 47."
HR Person 2: "I know. Hey, that reminds me, did you remember to update his status in the benefits system?"
HR Person 1: "I did. But you know, even though his coverage is terminated mid-month, he's still covered until the end of the month. Seems funny to me that we're paying for the deceased."
HR Person 2: "Well, did he have family coverage? That'd be good for them."
HR Person 1: "Oh yeah, I guess you're right. It's so complicated isn't it?"
PPACA: Hurry up and wait
Admin Assistant: "It's been a blessing having Jim and Susan covered until they turn 26. Susan is out of work and Jim's job doesn't have any benefits. Jim broke his leg. I don't know how we could have managed without the coverage."
Project Manager: "You know that coverage might go away real soon? The Supreme Court is ruling on the constitutionality of PPACA and they'll most likely can the whole health care reform thing."
Admin Assistant: "I heard about that. But won't it take them some time to figure out what to do? I mean, with the economy and all."
Project Manager: "I wouldn't count on it. I bet it could go away real soon."
Employees just being employees, just trying to understand it all. And a large majority of these employees still look to their employers for information about health insurance and benefits. But who does the employer turn to? Where are the brokers in these scenarios? These scenarios all have one thing in common - they represent opportunities to work with our employer groups on employee communication. All too often I hear stories like those above. Makes me wonder. With all of the tools available for brokers to assist their employer groups in employee communication, we still have - in 2012 - water-cooler dialogs like these.
Lamb is VP and group head of the EbixBenergy business unit at Ebix Health.
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