Easy does it: Transitioning your employees to consumer-driven health care

You’ve done it. You’ve decided to transition your health plan offering from a traditional preferred provider organization (PPO) to a qualifying high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with a health savings account (HSA) or health reimbursement account (HRA). You’re not alone. Each year, more employers recognize consumer-driven health care (CDH) as a way to keep benefit costs down while providing quality health care for employees.

Now that you’ve made the decision, how will you help employees transition so they feel confident in their benefits? Following are recommendations for boosting employee understanding and satisfaction in their CDH plan.

Make a contribution to the HRA or HSA. While employers are not required to contribute to an employee’s health account, making a contribution may lead to greater acceptance in adopting the CDH plan. In addition, your contribution is deductible as a business expense to the company.   According to a survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 71% of workers with an HSA or HRA reported that their employers contributed to the account in 2013.1

Use infographics to show savings with the CDH plan. Show employees how they benefit financially with a simple visual that compares the cost of the CDH plan (including the premium, deductible, out-of-pocket expenses and the employer contribution to the HRA or HSA) to a traditional health plan. A study by one health plan found total medical and pharmacy costs incurred for CDH plan members were consistently lower by 7% – 9%.2

Develop a strong communications strategy. Clearly demonstrate the benefits of the CDH plan through different media types. Web-based video and email allow for forwarding and sharing of information with family while live presentations encourage dialogue. Print collateral such as FAQs and brochures support online and live resources. By segmenting employees based on life stages and benefits knowledge, you can tailor your messages to each audience. Keep communicating all year round, not just at open enrollment time on tips for using the HSA and plan to increase employee understanding.

Make it easy to contribute to the health account. Make sure you have an easy process for employees to set and change their payroll contributions to their health account if you provide this service.

To learn more on HSAs visit: Optum health savings accounts.

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References
1https://www.uhc.com/content/dam/uhcdotcom/en/Employers/PDF/CDHvsPPOStudyResultsBrochure.pdf Accessed 3/17/15
2http://www.benefitspro.com/2014/02/18/more-employers-contributing-to-hsas-hras Accessed 10/1/14

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