Six best practices for encouraging consumer-driven health plan enrollments

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For employers and employees, consumer-driven healthcare represents a $118 billion savings opportunity, according to the Aite Group. But another study by Mercer finds that although more than 60% of employers offer consumer-driven health plans, only one-third of their employees enroll in them.

How can benefit advisers work with their employer clients to improve employee participation and realize the full range of potential savings that CDH plans represent? Here are six best practices to consider:

1. Partner with employers to develop a strong plan design. Poor plan design leads to disappointing enrollment results. Funding employee CDH accounts is key to driving adoption as evidenced by Mercer’s “National Survey of Employer-Sponsored Health Plans 2015.” The report found that CDH account adoption increases exponentially with direct-dollar contributions from employers, and advisers should urge employers to contribute into employee CDH accounts to motivate increased participation.

2. Position CDH plans and accounts as an integrated value proposition. Advise employers to present health plans and accounts as complementary solutions that go hand-in-hand. Work with them to communicate that CDH accounts were designed to help offset increased cost responsibilities.

3. Implement a train-the-trainer model with HR. Human resource departments are the gatekeepers for benefits enrollment and adoption. Advisers should work closely with HR to better articulate the value of CDH plans and accounts.

4. Encourage disruption. It’s human nature to avoid change and benefit selection can be confusing, so there’s a strong tendency among employees to simply rollover their current-year benefit selections. To drive CDH adoption, advisers should suggest that employers incentivize their employees to review their options and choose the most beneficial plan and account.

5. Communicate the benefits to employees. An effective communication strategy highlights CDH account benefits and promotes self-service tools that help employees be more confident of their choices. Advisers should work with employers to develop communications that detail how the accounts work and provide comparison tools and checklists. The adviser can maintain a library of turnkey reference materials that employers can deploy with minimal effort.

6. Marshall the executive team in to rally support for new programs. Encourage company executives to focus employees’ attention on new plan and account options. They should attend open enrollment meetings, send frequent communications and share their personal experiences.

To drive CDH adoption and account funding, employees must be engaged. Advisers need to help them recognize that by making poor choices they are leaving billions of dollars in tax savings on the table. By taking the lead on curbing consumer confusion and apathy, and cultivating strong partnerships with HR and the client’s executive team, advisers can ensure that a CDH rollout becomes a win-win-win for the employer, its employees and themselves. f

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